Hayfever and seasonal symptoms

Hayfever and seasonal symptoms

I’m not sure those without Hayfever understand quite how debilitating it can be - like a constant heavy cold, irritated eyes and endless need for tissues.

As time has gone on hayfever rates have risen. Typically it starts in adolescence and affects 1:4 adults. More common in those with an allergic history that might include conditions such as asthma and eczema (this mix of 3 conditions is known in the medical world as atopy)

Seasonal hayfever typically occurs from Spring to Autumn and is triggered by either tree pollen (Spring) or grass pollen (later in the season). Some people are triggered by both leading to months of persistent symptoms.

There is lots that can be done to help. Self help techniques to reduce exposure to pollens; wearing sun glasses and wide brimmed hats will prevent the pollen getting to the face. Removing clothing when you walk indoors or showering to wash pollen off will reduce the amount of pollen hanging around. You can even use saline sprays to wash out nasal passages.

Beyond this there are multiple prescription and over the counter treatment options. Speaking to your pharmacist is helpful to ensure your self treat medications are as optimal as possible. And start these early, a few weeks before the weather starts to warm. Over the counter nasal sprays and antihistamines and evidence based and safe to use long term. We’d usually advise avoiding older style anti histamines such as piriton due to the risks of drowsiness so choose a newer option such as cetirizine or loratadine. Fexofenadine become available over the counter as well last year increasing options even further.

And local honey? Well the verdict it out but it seems unlikely. The pollen in honey is from flowers which isn’t the same as that that causes hayfever. Honey does, however, have multiple health benefits and bees are essential for the environment so don’t let this put you off the stuff.

Now what about that hayfever jab you hear advertised about? Kenalog is not licensed for hayfever in the UK. It’s a high dose steroid injection which hangs around in your system for a number of weeks. Although steroids have a part to play in many conditions that have extensive side effects including immune suppression, weight gain, cataracts, diabetes and bone thinning to name just a few. Having steroid injections over the years will put you at high risk of these complications so although it might ‘work’ for your hayfever it does not work for overall safety and long term health.

Thankfully with all the other treatment choices above there are plenty of safer options to help manage symptoms for the season.

If you’ve exhausted all the above then speak to a GP- there are multiple prescription only medications that can be provided to get better control of your symptoms.

Dr Hayley Cousins
DR HAYLEY COUSINS
MBCHB MRCP MRCGP DFSRH DRCOG

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