What Is The Treatment For Hayfever?
Way too many people allow the
symptoms of hayfever to spoil their
summer because they are anxious about taking hay fever drugs, or feel it's
more 'natural' to suffer. Yet, when it comes to hay fever there really is
very little cause for concern. The risks associated with hay fever
medications are absolutely minimal, and it is such a waste to miss out on
the best time of year.
Most people respond very well to treatment with
antihistamines. If they make you sleepy, persist for a while, because this
side effect often wears off - or ask for one of the non-sedating forms. The
sleepiness is annoying, but it is only a minor side effect, and not an
indication of the drug causing any serious harm. How do
antihistamines work? When you suffer an allergic reaction, a
chemical is released into your body called histamine. This chemical attaches
itself to receptors in the body and triggers an allergic reaction.
Antihistamines work by binding to the same receptors (but do not trigger a
reaction) - and because the receptor is binded with antihistamine, there's
no room left for histamines to bind. The trick is, to take antihistamines
soon enough - before the histamines have a chance to bind. This is why it's
important to take the antihistamines well before the allergen is
encountered. Taking antihistamines at the first sign of an itch or sneeze
can also work, but the effects will not be nearly as good as taking them in
anticipation of exposure.
Common brands of non-sedating
antihistamines: Zyrtec, Allegra, Alavert, Claritin, Semprex,
Mizollen, Mistamine and Telfast. Most are available over the counter without
prescription. Most antihistamines perform badly if you take them once the
allergic reaction has set in, but acrivastine (Semprex-D capsules)
can be good in this circumstance and is non-sedating. It is available over
Cromoglycate drops (for the eyes or nose) do not
work for everyone, but if they work for you, go for them. These are
absolutely the safest of the anti-allergy drugs. They treat the symptoms of
red, watery or itchy eyes caused by hay fever.
Brand names include: Catacrom,
Cromolux, Opticrom, Optrex Allergy, Galpharm Hayfever, Hay-Crom, Pollenase
Allergy and Vividrin
Steroid drops and sprays for the nose
are sometimes recommended. The dose of steroid involved is small, and very
little gets into the bloodstream, so there is no risk of serious side
effects. If you suffer stinging, burning or dryness, it might be due to
preservatives in the drops, not the drug itself.
Steroid drops for the eyes should
be used cautiously - they are usually only prescribed for severe
inflammation of the eye during hay fever season. Don't use over-the-counter
decongestant drops for more than three days. The eye is vulnerable to
infections when using steroid drops, so this treatment ideally needs medical
Immunotherapy is a standard treatment for hay
fever in many countries, but in Britain you will struggle to get it.
Immunotherapy is all about re-training the immune system. It involves a
series of small injections just under the skin. The liquid injected contains
a small dose of the allergen you are allergic to. The idea is (a bit like
the flu-shot), you gradually build up an immunity to the allergen. Some
studies show patients report an 80-90 percent improvement in symptoms with
Some people with hay fever also have pollen
asthma. Their asthma is worse in the pollen season but it usually persists
all year round (either because there are other allergens or irritants
involved, or just because the inflammation of the airways is
self-perpetuating) whereas hay fever itself clears up. Treating the hay
fever fully with antihistamines helps considerably with the asthma symptoms.
What is hayfever? A
How is hayfever diagnosed? Hay
Are allergies becoming more common?
True or false?
What is a high pollen count? Plus, a
few myth busters.
How to avoid pollen at home. Stop pollen
sneaking into your home.
• Got another question? See: Allergy Questions
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