Symptoms of hayfever are caused by the body producing an allergic response to pollen. It affects up to 20% of the UK population at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of hayfever include:
– itchy, tearing eyes
– runny, blocked or itchy nose
What is the cause of hayfever?
Pollen is produced by many different types of trees, grass and weeds. Symptoms are caused by breathing in these pollen particles or getting them in your eyes. Your body’s response causes inflammation and subsequently causes you to experience the symptoms of hayfever. Hayfever can run in families. You are more likely to experience hayfever if you suffer from asthma or eczema.
What treatments are available?
Antihistamine tablets are one of the most effective ways to combat symptoms of hayfever. There are three different kinds:
– Chlorphenamine (Piriton)
– Cetirizine (Zirtek, Benadryl)
– Loratadine (Clarityn)
Each antihistamine works in the same way, although some will be more effective than others for individual patients. To help you make your decision, see the table below. Eye drops can be effective if itchy or watery eyes are a particular problem.
– Sodium cromoglicate (Opticrom, optrex allergy eye drops)
The sodium cromoglicate should be used before going outside as they prevent the eyes from reacting to pollen. Nasal sprays are useful if nasal itching or inflammation is a problem. Nasal sprays usually contain a steroid which helps to reduce inflammation in the nasal lining:
– Fluticasone (Pirinase)
– Beclomethasone (Beconase)
Decongestants can be effective for blocked noses and are available as tablets, drops and sprays:
– Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed tablets)
– Xylometazoline (Otrivine nasal spray/drops, Sudafed nasal spray)