Travelpharm’s Complete Guide To Hay Fever
What is Hay Fever?
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, occurs when the lining of the nasal cavity is inflamed. This then leads to many symptoms which can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. Although hay fever most commonly occurs seasonally, it can also affect many people all year round (perennially).
What causes it?
Hay fever is caused when the body is exposed to certain harmless allergens such as pollen or house dust mites. The body’s immune system mistakenly identifies these allergens as harmful and in response releases chemicals such as histamine into the bloodstream. This then leads to inflammation of the nasal passages, sinuses and eyelids which causes the main symptoms associated with hay fever.
Classic Hay Fever Symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- Itchy/red/watery eyes
- Postnasal drip
How to Manage your Hay Fever:
Avoidance of triggers:
- Keep windows closed when indoors to prevent pollen from getting inside the house. This is most important in the early mornings and in the evening when the pollen count is highest
- Monitor the pollen count daily and try to stay indoors when the count is high
- Wear wraparound sunglasses when outdoors to avoid the pollen getting into your eyes
- Barrier balms such as Vaseline when applied around the nostrils can help to trap the pollen and prevent it from entering the nose
- Take a shower and change your clothes after being outdoors to get rid of any pollen on the clothes or body
It is worth knowing that different times of the year tend to have different airborne allergens. For example, springtime tends to be tree pollen season, whilst summer tends to be grass pollen. And believe it or not, there are a few unlucky people who will suffer all year round with airborne allergies to dust and moulds.
Antihistamines: These are a class of drugs that help to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring by blocking the chemical (histamine) that triggers the allergic response. Examples include Cetirizine and Loratadine which are non-drowsy and Chlorphenamine which can cause drowsiness.
Corticosteroids: These mainly come in the form of a Nasal Spray and help to reduce any inflammation or swelling in the nasal passages which in response helps to relieve many of the symptoms associated with hay fever.
Although most Hay Fever treatments are available to purchase over the counter, there are stronger options available to you. We stock a range of prescription-strength medicines to help ease and manage your hay fever and allergy. All you need to do is fill in one of our online consultations!
Prescription Strength Treatments. Just like the treatments available over the counter at your pharmacy, prescription-strength treatments are available as tablets, sprays and drops.
If it’s tablets you need perhaps the most popular are Fexofenadine 120mg tablets. These tablets are non-drowsy and soon to be available to buy without the need for a prescription. If you are looking for a nasal spray, most contain the potent steroid Fluticasone (just like Pirinase) but add in a potent antihistamine. For example:
Avamys (steroid) – Fluticasone, but a little stronger
Rhinolast (antihistamine) – Something a little different, rapid long-lasting relief
Dymista (steroid + antihistamine) – potent combination therapy.
As for eyes, the prescription-strength treatments are Optilast and Ketofall. Both these products contain antihistamines with significant antihistamine and mast cell stabilising properties. Ketofall is particularly suited to patients who wear contact lenses because it does not contain preservatives.
If your symptoms persist or are severe, you may need to contact your GP to obtain prescription medication.
Written by Yasmine Bakr MPharm (Pharmacist)
GPhC Reg: 2220897