It is peak grass pollen season, and lots of people are sneezing, wheezing and rubbing their eyes.
For most people hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) is a mild condition that is little more than a nuisance and can be controlled with an antihistamine. For some it makes summer a misery.
People with severe hay fever may dread outdoor activities like sports or picnics. Sitting inside with the windows closed is no fun in this weather. Hay fever can also severely affect concentration at work and at school (not a good thing during your GCSEs).
1. Only use non-drowsy antihistamines (cetirizine, loratidine and acrivastine*)
2. Use a steroid nose spray daily (beclometasone and fluticasone sprays*)
3. Try to avoid using decongestants regularly – they are fine to use occasionally, but can make rhinitis worse if used often.
4. Pollen avoidance can help:
- Wash hair before bed so that the pollen in your hair doesn’t get on the pillow.
- Get the washing in before the pollen begins to settle in the evening.
- Wear wrap around sunglasses to stop pollen getting into the eyes.
- A little Vaseline around the inside of your nostrils can trap some of the pollen.
- Saline rinses can wash some of the pollen out of your nose after you’ve been out.
For severe hay fever, immunotherapy (hay fever injections or tablets) can help to control symptoms – it’s too late to start this year, but ask your GP about referring you to our immunotherapy clinic (or other local allergy clinic) to see if this would be suitable for you for next season.
Lots more advice is available from allergy websites such as Allergy UK’s.
*Available without prescription, but do check with your chemist if you are taking other medications
See today’s Met Office Pollen Forecast
Now is the time to start using your steroid nose spray to prevent sneezing, itchy streaming eyes and runny nose – use the chin-to-chest technique! You can add antihistamines and eyedrops as well but if all that doesn’t help, then perhaps you need to come and see us. Ask your GP about a referral.
Milk allergy affects up to 8% of childen in the UK but new treatment can provide a ‘cure’ for some sufferers. Dr Scott Hackett, Consultant Paediatrician in Allergy comments in a recent Daily Mail article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2339247/How-buttered-toast-ice-cream-beat-milk-allergy.html
The Allergy service at HEFT recently achieved full registered status with the national IQAS scheme. IQAS (Improving Quality in Allergy Services) was launched by the Royal College of Physicians in 2012 as a first step towards accreditation of Allergy services. Commenting on the HEFT application, the assessor described it as a “first rate comprehensive service”. A full inspection of the Allergy service is expected by the end of 2013.
A new treatment for patients with severe hay fever has been approved for use by the Allergy Centre.
Immunotherapy has been used for over 100 years to treat severe hay fever. This required a course of weekly and then monthly pollen injections given at the hospital over a 3-year period.
With the new hay fever tablet (called Grazax), a tablet of pollen extract taken daily simply dissolves under the tongue. This slowly alters the immune system so that it no longer reacts so strongly against grass pollen in the summer, and so hay fever symptoms are more easily controlled.
Immunotherapy is not suitable for everyone. You can read more about it on the Allergy UK website: http://www.allergyuk.org/the-management-of-allergy/immunotherapy