Like millions of other sufferers, PRimage MD Judy Viitanen is experiencing the miseries of hay fever symptoms at the moment.
PRimage client, Day Lewis, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy multiple, has just issued a ‘hay fever survival guide’ news release to the regional media. Look our for it in your local newspaper.
Here are some tips from your local Day Lewis Pharmacist to help us all cope and ‘beat the sneezes’:
If you have hay fever, you are allergic to pollen and/or fungal spores. Hay fever symptoms can include sneezing, a blocked or runny nose, itchy eyes, nose and throat, headaches, not being able to concentrate, sleeping badly, and feeling generally unwell. In some people, pollen may also trigger asthma.
But you don’t have to suffer in silence each summer – you can take steps yourself to prevent exposure to pollen, and there are treatments available.
Avoiding pollen exposure
· Keep doors and windows closed when the pollen count is high.
· Stay away from areas where there is more pollen especially in the early morning, late afternoon and evening.
· Wear wrap-around sunglasses.
· Don’t put washing outside if pollen counts are high as pollen may get trapped in the fibres.
What hay fever treatments are available?
There are over the counter treatments you can take to make life as comfortable as possible, and your GP may also prescribe medicines to ease your symptoms. You should get advice from your pharmacist before starting any medication, even if you buy it over the counter. And follow the instructions on the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine.
Nasal sprays and drops
· Steroid-based nasal sprays and drops – these are most likely to reduce inflammation and may help clear your nose (However, they do need to be taken regularly to be effective).
· Nasal sprays and drops containing antihistamines – these reduce sneezing and itching, but are less good at unblocking your nose.
· Nasal sprays and drops containing decongestants – these can reduce swelling in the lining of your nose and prevent mucus production, helping to clear your nose in the short-term only.
· Sodium cromoglycate – your GP may recommend this if you are already taking steroids for another allergic condition, if your symptoms are mild or if the medicine is for a child.
These are for itchy eyes – some eye drops contain antihistamines and others contain sodium cromoglycate. You may be prescribed nedocromil sodium if your symptoms are more severe.
Tablets usually contain antihistamines, which work to reduce sneezing, watering eyes and an itchy mouth and throat. Some antihistamines can make you feel drowsy.
If all other treatments have failed to provide relief, a specialist may advise you to try immunotherapy. This involves being given doses of the pollen to which you are allergic over a period of time.
Your GP may prescribe you a short course of steroid tablets if you have severe hay fever, or if you need fast symptom relief – your dose can be adjusted according to the pollen count and you can stop taking the tablets straight away if you have any side-effects. You can use other treatments such as nasal sprays while taking steroids.