Hay fever can sometimes be more serious than we think. That is why we must know our treatment options

Hay fever can sometimes be more serious than we think.  That is why we must know our treatment options
Hay fever can sometimes be more serious than we think.  That is why we must know our treatment options

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Hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is an umbrella term that covers a group of ailments that cause sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy, red eyes.

Hay fever affects millions of people in Australia. Ask your friends and colleagues about hay fever and it is likely that several will report that they have it. However, they will likely describe different triggers, symptoms, and seasons when it happens

Although it may seem more like a nuisance than anything else, uncontrolled hay fever can have economic and other health effects.

Hay fever can reduce people’s ability to concentrate, for example, when driving or to work either school. This worsens with hay fever which also leads to disturbed sleepaffecting mood.

Nasal inflammation from allergies also has a worrying impact on an individual’s defenses against infection. The inflammation of hay fever and the need to breathe through the mouth have a direct effect impact on asthmaleading to poorer symptom control and a higher risk of a flare-up requiring unscheduled medical care.

To reduce these risks, a variety of treatments are available. However, before considering treatment, we must consider what is going wrong and why.

What is hay fever?

In addition to Genetic factors, environmental exposures as airborne contaminants can dramatically predispose people to allergies.

common causes

The causes of hay fever fall into three main groups:

  • seasonal: pollens and plant materials that give symptoms at certain times of the year. Calendar charts of the various pollens are available.

  • perennial/year-round symptoms: no matter how clean your house is, you will be exposed to fungal spores and to the feces of dust mites that feed on dead skin cells. That sounds unsettling enough, but both can be potent allergens that can’t be effectively avoided.

  • intermittent: this is usually dead animal skin. It’s worth noting that the culprits are the molecules in your saliva, sweat, and urine, not your hair.

What treatments are best for hay fever?

Given these serious consequences, it is reassuring to know that there are effective treatments for hay fever. These range from common over-the-counter products to specialty medications.


Many people will immediately think of antihistamines for hay fever: in tablets, nasal spray or eye drops. Histamine is a key chemical messenger in the allergy process, but it is not the only one. Therefore, antihistamines alone are usually only enough to fix minor problems.

There are a large number of antihistamines available with a range of effectiveness. Although many are available without a prescription, keep in mind that some are sedating and some are not safe during pregnancy or when you have certain heart conditions and may conflict with other medications.

nasal treatments

Nasal sprays apply the treatment directly to the microscopic hairs in the nose, diffusing the medicine in a useful way. Many people take over-the-counter corticosteroid nasal sprays to reduce inflammation.

As a doctor, I’ve found that it’s common in the clinic for people to say that sprays “don’t work,” but usually this is because they don’t take them correctly. These deals it can take many days to take effect and must be taken regularly every day. The trick is: don’t sniff them (the medicine will end up in the back of your throat), or spray them into the sensitive middle part of your nose, which can bleed.

Saline nasal rinses can be very helpful in removing mucus, allergens, and inflammatory material (snot, you and me) before using other medications. Always use sterile fluids for this or nasty sinus infections can occur.


Decongestants may seem like a good idea when you can’t breathe, but they’re associated with worsening swelling when the effect wears off (this has the excellent name rhinitis medicinala).

For many chemicals, if you take them long enough, the body cuts off its own supply (negative feedback) so when the drug is removed, the body is worse off. Think about how someone feels who hasn’t had coffee all day and usually drinks four or five cups. There is a rebound of blood vessel dilation and mucus production. Use them sparingly.

Prescribed therapies

If your hay fever is more severe, your doctor might consider a course of higher-strength steroid nose drops, but these should not be used for more than a month as they can cause erosion of the nasal lining.

Sometimes it can be helpful to add a drug that acts on other key messengers of inflammation (leukotrienes), such as montelukast. These tablets are usually well tolerated, but they can have side effects, such as headache, that require discontinuation.

Validated scores that ask a standard set of questions about aspects of someone’s symptoms (such as “SNOT-22”) are helpful in assessing who needs additional prescription treatment for hay fever and their response.

Specialized treatments

For people with hay fever along with asthma or another allergic disease, there are now effective medications that block allergy messengers in a very specific way, such as monoclonal antibody Dupilumab, and more are coming soon. Although they are too expensive to prescribe for hay fever alone, they show that our understanding of the relevant mechanisms has improved.

Giving people a small regular dose of something they are sensitized to can make their immune system more tolerant. This is often known as immunotherapy, and it can be by injection or regular tablet.

Despite potentially very usefulthis treatment takes years and many people do not complete your course. The observed improvements are incremental rather than a complete one. permanent resolution.

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Citation: Hay fever can sometimes be more serious than we think. That’s Why We Need to Know Our Treatment Options (2022, Nov 9) Retrieved Nov 9, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-11-hay-fever-treatment-options.html

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