According to the World Health Organization, between 10% and 30% of the worldwide population suffers from allergic rhinitis or, as it’s more commonly known, hayfever.
It’s estimated that around ten million people in Britain suffer from this condition which, while not necessarily serious, can cause a great deal of discomfort and inconvenience to sufferers.
If you’re a person who suffers from hayfever you’ll be only too aware of how discomforting hayfever can be.
What causes hayfever?
Hayfever – or allergic rhinitis to give it its medical term - occurs as a result of a hypersensitive immune system.
When an allergen enters the nose, it releases a chemical called histamine, which causes inflammation in the nasal passages.
The immune system then attacks the allergen, mistaking it for something more serious, such as an infection. This will trigger an immune response, which causes the body to produce extra mucus. This will lead to symptoms that include congestion and sneezing.
The condition is generally classified as seasonal, perennial or occupational:
Seasonal – symptoms occur at the same time each year. If caused by grass or tree pollen allergens, it is also commonly called hayfever. Other allergens include mould spores and weed pollen.
Perennial – symptoms occur throughout the year. Typically caused by house allergens like dust mites and domestic pets.
Occupational – symptoms occur due to exposure to allergens at work. Examples include flour, wood dust and latex gloves.
Hayfever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it's warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.
Symptoms of hayfever include:
sneezing and coughing
a runny or blocked nose
itchy, red or watery eyes
itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
loss of smell
pain around your temples and forehead
Hayfever can last for weeks or months, unlike a cold, which usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks.
At Toome Pharmacy, our pharmacists are specially trained to both consult with you with regard to your hay fever and, where appropriate, to prescribe the necessary medication.
At present the most commonly-prescribed medications are:
Fexofenadine is used to relieve allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, itching eyes/nose, sneezing, hives, and itching. It works by blocking histamine that your body makes during an allergic reaction.
Dymista is a dual-action nasal spray used to help relieve nasal symptoms of allergies in individuals over the age of 12 years old. Commonly used in hayfever, Dymista contains two active ingredients: Azelastine - an antihistamine which works by interfering with the inflammatory pathway in the body and reduces symptoms such as swelling, redness and itchiness, and Fluticasone - a steroid, which also helps reduce inflammation.
Mometasone is a nasal spray which is used to prevent and relieve symptoms of sneezing, runny, stuffy, or itchy nose caused by hay fever or other allergies.
Rhinolast is a nasal spray which contains the antihistamine Azelastine hydrochloride.
Advice and support
In addition to medical treatment, our pharmacists will also be able to advise on steps that you can take to offset the effects of hayfever. These steps include advising hayfever sufferers to:
Stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Windows should be kept closed and, if they have to go outside, then they should shower and wash your hair before going to bed at night
Keep the humidity in their homes below 50 per cent to stop mould growth
Replace curtains, which collect allergens, with blinds, and stick with easy-to-clean floor coverings like wood or tiles rather than rugs or carpeting
Wash bedding frequently in water that’s at least 130° F to kill dust mites. Mattresses and pillows should be covered by allergen-impermeable covers.
Consultation: free of charge
Medication: price subject to choice of medication (£10-£20)