Long, bright, warm days & even longer nights are a much welcomed feature of this summer in Ireland. Unfortunately for some however, hay fever is on the rise, and it seems to be more people are suffering than ever before. In the finer weather, pollen and spores in the air rise and this can cause a lot of discomfort to those who suffer from hay fever.
So, what exactly is hay fever? Hay fever, (also called allergic rhinitis) is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander.
Hay fever is quite common, estimated to affect around 20% of people. The symptoms of hay fever include:
By keeping windows closed during the day time when pollen is at its highest, it reduces your exposure and helps keeps your allergies at bay.
Antihistamines can help with Itching, sneezing and watery eyes, but they have little use for a blocked nose. They treat hay fever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it thinks it is under attack from an allergen. This helps reduce the symptoms of the allergic reaction from occurring.
Zirtek/Cetrine is a ‘one tablet once a day’ dosage and is non drowsy. Cetrine is the generic of Zirtek, so it is a little less expensive.
Clarityn is also a one a day non-drowsy antihistamine, or there are generics available nowadays namely Lorat.
Piriton is a drowsy alternative, so is sometimes useful at night.
For children, Zirtek liquid (non-drowsy) is available and can be used from 2 years. Phenergan liquid is also suitable from 2 years, but can cause drowsiness so night time use only is advised.
There are numerous eye drops available without a prescription to treat the hay fever symptoms that affect your eyes, such as redness, itchiness and watering (allergic conjunctivitis).
Otrivine Antistin eye drops provide instant relief and comfort to itch watering eyes. They are suitable for adults and children over 12 years.
Opticrom eye drops do not work as fast as Otrivine, however they do provide more longer lasting relief from hayfever symptoms. They are suitable also from 6 years of age.
Optrex Soothing Eye Drops for Itchy Eyes contain natural plant extracts and are a effective yet gentle eye drop to combat itching of the eyes. Can be used from 6 years of age.
Hylo-Dual Eye Drops work in 2 ways; they moisturise dry eyes and stabilize the tear film reducing inflammatory and allergic symptoms such as itching and burning. Hylo Dual are preservative free and are sterile for 6 months after opening. They also have a unique ‘one pump one drop’ mode of action to allow easier dosage.
Corticosteroids are more effective than antihistamine tablets at preventing & relieving nasal symptoms, including sneezing & congestion. They can also relieve itchy, watery eyes. They are particularly useful for persistent hayfever where an antihistamine on its own does not relieve the symptoms. They are most effective if you start using them a couple of weeks before your symptoms usually begin, and work best when used regularly.
Flixonase Allergy Relief gives fast effective relief from sneezing, itchy nose, nasal congestion, sinus pain and pressure, and runny nose and eyes. Once symptoms are under control flixonase goes on working to act as a protective shield against further allergy attack.
Beconase Hayfever prevents and relieves nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny itchy nose due to hayfever and other seasonal allergic conditions. Once nasal congestion is cleared the pressure and pain around the eyes is also reduced. Regular use is essential for full therapeutic benefit. Beconase quickly starts to bring relief and reduce swelling in the nose although it may take a few days to build up to maximum effect.
Hay fever can cause a blocked nose. A decongestant, in the form of a nasal spray, can relieve this. Decongestants reduce the swelling of the blood vessels in your nose, which opens your nasal passage and makes breathing easier.
Otrivine Nasal spray or Sudafed Nasal Spray both contain the active ingredient Xylometazoline. This is a highly effective decongestant which acts gently within minutes to relieve nasal congestion associated with sinusitis, head colds or hayfever for up to 10 hours.
Always consult your pharmacist before taking any medications to make sure they are suitable for you.