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Health Tips / Hayfever

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Hayfever is an allergic reaction to pollen grains, of which grass pollen is the most common type. Sneezing, a runny nose (rhinitis), nasal congestion and watery eyes are the most common symptoms but wheezing and coughing can also be a problem for a significant proportion.
The higher the pollen count level in the atmosphere, the worse the effects, with symptoms often being at their worst in the early morning and late evening. It is estimated that between May and August 2% to 10% of the population suffer from hayfever and those who suffer allergies such as asthma are more likely to suffer from hayfever also.
Hayfever is most common in those aged between 16 and 34.

Preventative measures

Avoid freshly cut grass and get somebody else to mow the lawn.
Stay indoors with the windows closed.
Do not sleep with an open window.
Keep car windows closed. Some cars now have pollen filters.
Wear sunglasses to prevent pollen grains getting in your eyes.
Wash your hands regularly and do not touch your eyes with your hands.
Apply Vaseline to the nose, which can trap the pollen and prevent it travelling further up the nasal passage.
As coastal areas have lower pollen levels, go to the coast when the pollen counts are high.
Do not smoke and avoid smokey atmospheres.
It is recommended that if there is a history of pollen allergy in a family, newborn babies should be kept away from high pollen concentrations.
Take appropriate preventative medicine (See below)..  

Non-prescription treatments

A number of oral antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops are available without prescription.

Antihistamines are taken to prevent and treat the allergy directly. Older, oral antihistamines such as PIRITON will reduce symptoms but can cause drowsiness. The sedating anti-histamines need to be taken a number of times in the day and interact with some other medicines. 

elixir, may be used in children from 2 years with dosage dependent on age. PHENERGAN elixir can also cause drowsiness and at high doses may cause photosensitivity thus increasing the risk of being sunburnt.

The newer antihistamines such as Cetirizine (available in such brands as ZIRTEK or CETIRELIEF) and Loratadine (available in such brands as CLARITYN or CLAREEZE) are considered to cause much less drowsiness.

Zirtek is regarded as usually non-sedative but in very sensitive people (less than 10% of patients) some drowsiness has been reported.

For children from 2 years of age, ZIRTEK oral solution is available without prescription. Dosage is dependent on weight. 

As oral antihistamines alone are not effective in treating nasal congestion, they are combined with a decongestant in ACTIFED, which is available as a tablet or as a liquid that can be administered to children over the age of 6.

Nasal Congestion can be treated using nasal corticosteroid sprays such as BECONASE HAYFEVER Nasal Spray or FLIXONASE ALLERGY RELIEF.  The manufacturers of BECONASE HAYFEVER recommend regular usage is essential for full therapeutic benefit. However, if there is no response after 14 days of treatment, medical advice should be sought. It should not be used continuously for longer than 3 months without consulting your doctor.

For FLIXONASE onset of action in the treatment of allergic rhinitis has been observed as early as 2-4 hours after use, with most users achieving symptomatic relief within 12 hours of treatment. Maximum benefit may require 3-4 days of continuous treatment in some people. If there is no improvement within 7 days, you should consult your doctor.

Where symptoms of a runny nose (rhinitis) and watering eyes are particularly bad, and cannot be controlled by oral antihistamines alone, nasal sprays such as VIVIDRIN and eye drops such as HAY-CROM, OPTICROM and VIVIDRIN can be used. These preventative medicines can be administered up to four times daily and should be started a week or two before the pollen season commences. Where the sufferers experience severe  eye symptoms, the use of combined antihistamine/sympathomimetic eye drops, OTRIVINE-ANTISTIN are sometimes recommended. 

At the end of the hayfever season, the prescription and non-prescription medications used should be reviewed and plans made for the following hayfever season.

Further Information on the medicines listed above including recommended dosages is available at

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Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00