With September comes Spring and while I’m lucky enough to be able to roll around in the grass and run through sun-soaked fields all day with little issue, others will be dreading the pollen count rising and dealing with the frustrating effects of hay fever. But don’t let your spring dreams be dreams! You can still get outside and see the flowers bloom!
Here’s some tips to help you deal with hay fever.
What Is Hay Fever?
To understand how to help prevent hay fever, you need to know what hay fever is.
Hay fever is the result of the body’s ‘overreaction’ to allergens in the air. Allergens such as animal hair, dust mites, mould and, of course, pollen infiltrate the nasal passage and stimulate the body’s immune response. This causes a range of problems hay fever sufferers would know all too well – congestion of the nose, watery eyes and that general feeling that you’re just really clogged up.
The scientific term for hay fever is allergic rhinitis, which literally means inflammation of the nose due to an allergy. People suffer from allergic rhinitis throughout the year but because of the increased pollen count as spring gets underway, you usually hear about hay fever in Australia around this time of year and into the early summer.
The Best Hay Fever Treatment Methods
Wherever you look, you’ll most likely find that the easiest way to treat hay fever is to try and keep an eye on the pollen count for the next day and then do your best to avoid going outside. While the old cliché ‘prevention is the best treatment’ is definitely applicable, you don’t want to be confined indoors and miss out on that awesome Spring weather. So beyond completely avoiding the outdoors, what can you do to treat hay fever?
The major class of drugs that most sufferers will turn to are the antihistamines. These drugs are anti-inflammatory which literally means they work by countering the immune response and preventing inflammation. You can find these drugs at any pharmacy or chemist around the country and the most common and some of the well-known brand names are Telfast, Zyrtec and Claratyne. Generally, these antihistamines are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier as effectively as earlier forms of the drug and thus are less likely to induce drowsiness.
If you’re going to take oral antihistamines, you should be taking them before exposure, whereas nasal antihistamines tend to work shortly after being administered.
Many hay fever sufferers already use these drugs to get through the Spring, however, to save yourself a few dollars it’s worth knowing the active ingredients in these products.
Telfast, for instance, uses the compound fexofenadine, whereas Zyrtec is cetirizine and Claratyne is ioratadine. If you can find generic brands that feature these active ingredients they will generally be a lot cheaper per tablet and will last you a lot longer.
Use Intranasal Glucocorticoids
This class of drugs have been demonstrated to be one of the most effective at relieving the effects of hay fever and some may require prescriptions in Australia. The major difference in using them, as opposed to antihistamines, is their peak effect is achieved over much longer time frames. Thus, if you are using these as a treatment option, you should ensure that you administer them with more regularity. Moreover, they do seem to be as effective as antihistamines for treating any of the eye-based issues that you experience with hay fever.
When using nasal sprays to combat hay fever, it’s best to opt for this class if you suffer from moderate to severe rhinitis but it is worth checking with a GP to see if this class of drugs is for you, as they can have more harsh side effects than antihistamines.
Faster acting nasal sprays that you’ll find in most Australian chemists under similar brand names to the antihistamines – Telfast, Sudafed, Claratyne, Zyrtec etc. – are actually another class of drugs again, nasal decongestants. These work slightly differently and aim to constrict the blood vessels within your nose, leading to less swelling and allowing more air to flow through them. Definitely only viable as a short term fix, because long term use leads to more congestion and a condition called rhinitis medicamentosa.
Eye Drops For Hay Fever
Eye drops are obviously useful if you’re struggling to get watery, red eyes under control. Generally, these will use antihistamines or a combination of antihistamines and decongestants for controlling symptoms. You can grab them over-the-counter in Australia. If you’re looking for the drug names Zyrtec uses levocabastine and Eyezep uses azelastine. If you’re dealing with the nasal congestion okay, then opt for the eye drops. This is also probably the cheapest option, overall.
Homeopathic Remedies For Hay Fever Are Not Helpful
There exists little scientific evidence that homeopathic remedies for hay fever are able to prevent or relieve symptoms. One of the most recent systematic reviews, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, explained that the quality of evidence does not exist to suggest homeopathic remedies such as using a nasal spray containing Galphimia glauca, a herb used in Mexican traditional medicine, can alleviate hay fever symptoms.
Let us know how you keep your hay fever under control in the comments below