Written by Jamie-Lee Woods
The days are longer, the air is warmer and the grass is greener - spring has sprung! For many people, the change in season can also mean the onset of hay fever. Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a very common allergic condition affecting 1 in 5 Australians, commonly causing symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion and fatigue.
Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal and perennial (year-round). Seasonal allergic rhinitis generally causes symptoms during a particular season in response to an allergen such as pollen. While seasonal allergic rhinitis is prevalent in spring, it can also be experienced during the autumn, winter and summer months. Perennial rhinitis occurs year-round, and can be caused by a number of allergens including dust, animal dander and mould.
Sometimes, management of hay fever can be as simple as figuring out what is causing the allergy and avoiding it. Other times, it can be difficult to determine exactly what is causing the allergy or simply impractical to avoid. If this is the case, some of the following tips may be helpful:
- Avoid going outside or keep windows closed when the pollen count is high, which is usually mid-morning and late afternoon/early evening
- Use simple protective measures such as sunglasses to avoid allergens coming in direct contact to the eye
- Regularly clean air-conditioner filters to remove potential allergens
- Use a HEPA filter for your vacuum cleaner
- Use dust-mite proof pillow cases and mattress protectors
- Keep pets outdoors or out of bedrooms
- Use a medication to prevent or control symptoms
What treatments are available?
Antihistamines are often the easiest and most convenient way to treat and prevent allergic rhinitis. They come in a variety of forms including tablets, liquids, eyedrops and nasal sprays. Some anti-histamines can be used preventatively and can be particularly helpful if you know you are going to come in contact with something that might trigger symptoms. They are also handy to keep close by if you unexpectedly start experiencing symptoms.
Decongestants can be helpful if you experience nasal congestion as a symptom of hay fever and are available in nasal sprays and tablet form. Decongestants are best for short term use only, and special caution should be taken if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other medication.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays
Corticosteroid nasal sprays can also be helpful if you experience persistent congestion due to allergic rhinitis. These particular medications work by reducing the inflammation in the nasal passage, and as a result, reduce congestion. These particular nasal sprays need to be used regularly to be effective.
Immunotherapy is usually reserved for people with symptoms that are difficult to control with other medications, and is prescribed under direction of a specialist. The goal of immunotherapy is to reduce the severity of symptoms and provide long-term relief from allergic rhinitis.
Now is the time to take control of your hay fever! To discuss more about managing hay fever, make an appointment with a PharmOnline pharmacist today!