So, you’ve opened this blog post, so I’m assuming you’re suffering from the dreaded seasonal Hayfever… don’t let it ruin your Summer and take control of it now!
As I work as a Pharmacy Dispenser, I have seen so many people coming in with puffy, swollen eyes, and their noses streaming, so I figured this would be a useful post!
Before I begin the post, I just want to state a quick disclaimer that you should always seek professional advice at the Pharmacy Counter if you have never taken certain medicines before. Especially, if you are on any other medications, you’re pregnant, expecting or breastfeeding or suffer any other health conditions.
Antihistamines whether they be tablets or syrup are probably the first thing that Doctors or Pharmacists would recommend. Over-the-counter there are many different types of antihistamines, but the most important thing to understand is that one type of antihistamine may work better for one person and not for another. You have to find the one that works best for you.
You also need to decide whether you want a drowsy or non-drowsy antihistamine, as the more modern antihistamines (Loratadine & Cetirizine) tend to be less drowsy, whereas older antihistamines (Chlorphenamine & Promethazine) tend to cause drowsiness. However, we do warn that all antihistamines run the risk of causing drowsiness depending on how each individual reacts to it.
I’ve recently tried a product, which is an absolute lifesaver. I woke up one day with my eyes and nose streaming, so I had to send my mum out to the pharmacy. This product is the Benadryl Allergy Relief Plus Decongestant Capsules. The product contains two active ingredients – Acrivastine, which is another antihistamine and Pseudoephedrine, which is a decongestant that helps to dry up nasal secretions, help to shrink swollen nasal passages and helps to unblock the nose. You can take one capsule up to three times a day if necessary. However, Pseudoephedrine is a stimulant, so I would not advise taking this before bed time, as it can increase your heart rate and make it difficult to sleep. Please double check with the Pharmacist if you are on any other medication, as Pseudoephedrine can react with a lot of different medications, including blood pressure medication.
Eyedrops are essential to those who suffer with itchy eyes during Hayfever season. The best eye drops to treat itchy eyes and acute conjunctivitis (caused by allergens) are those that contain Sodium Cromoglicate. This active ingredient works by preventing the release of histamines (the chemical that causes inflammation), so this should reduce the risk of your eyes becoming itchy and inflamed. If you are a contact lens wearer, you should not wear contacts when you insert the eye drops. You can re-insert the lenses 15-minutes after using the drops, but no earlier. This is because the stabiliser in the eye drops (Benzalkonium Chloride) may leave deposits on the lens, and can also cause discolouration of the lens.
I’d also recommend eye drops to keep your eyes hydrated. The Summer months can dry out your eyes and cause it to become irritated. I would recommend drops that contain an active ingredient called Hypromellose, which will rehydrate your eyes. Another eye drop to look out for is those containing Distilled Witch Hazel (aka Hamamelis Water), as it is used for its natural astringent (cell shrinking) properties, as well as its cooling properties.
Another thing I’d recommend is to get a flannel or cloth and run it under cold water and place it onto your eyes. It will help to reduce swelling if your eyes happen to become puffy and will provide some relief to itchy eyes.
So, nasal sprays are down to personal preference. You also have to watch out for age when using these, as a lot of nasal sprays are only allowed to be used if you’re over 18, for example. Always check the packaging or seek advice at the Pharmacy Counter.
Most nasal sprays for Hayfever typically contain Corticosteroids (aka steroids). Corticosteroids are hormones that are produced naturally to control the inflammatory response in the body. Beconase and Pirinase are two examples of products that can be sold over-the-counter. These sprays can only be used for a maximum of 3-months, however, they can be prescribed by the doctors for longer use. With these type of nasal sprays, they must be used continuously, and the treatment must be started before your Hayfever begins. This is to build up the anti-inflammatory effect of the steroids.
You can of course go for more natural nasal sprays, such as Prevalin Allergy and Benadryl Allergy NaturEase Nasal Spray. Prevalin uses a formula that forms a gel lining in the nasal passage to block allergens from entering. Benadryl NaturEase uses a natural formulation that helps to cleanse the nasal passage to remove allergens.
Another recommendation is to use a thick ointment of some sort and put a small amount in the entrance of the nasal passage. Ointments can include petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline or menthol rub. This will help to prevent allergens from entering the nose, as the allergens will stick to the ointment and will be prevented from entering further into the nasal cavity.
Blocked or Runny Nose?…
So, the worst thing about Hayfever is that it can cause your nose to become incredibly blocked or run like a tap.
For blocked noses, I like to use menthol or eucalyptus products. Any brands such as, Olbas Oil, Vicks, Calpol, etc. have a range of chest rubs, oils or inhalation sticks. These products have natural decongestant properties, so will help to unblock your nose. I love using the menthol chest rubs at night time to help me breathe better when I sleep and the inhaler sticks for temporary relief throughout the day.
For a runny nose, antihistamine tablets or syrup should normally help to dry up the mucus. However, you can also use saline nasal sprays, such as Sterimar Isotonic Nasal Hygiene Spray for Allergies & Sinusitis. This helps to moisturise and cleanse the nasal passage to remove any allergens that are causing your body to react and therefore produce more mucus. So, by cleansing the nasal passage, you will remove the excess mucus. You must blow your nose after to remove this excess mucus. Sterimar also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, so will help those with runny noses.
Some other tips for Hayfever sufferers…
Wash your hair every evening to rinse out the pollen that has attached to your hair.
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
Invest in an air purifier, as a special mechanism helps to remove allergens, dust particles, etc. from the atmosphere, so it will reduce the amount of allergens that you breathe in.
Clean your bedding regularly, as dust mites, dead skin cells and allergens can accumulate in your bedding and can cause your body to react to it in the night.
Adding Manuka Honey to boiled water and drinking it often, or take a spoonful of it a day. I’ve found that this has helped me build a natural defence to pollen. If you can find locally-sourced honey, this may be very beneficial, as it gets your body used to the local pollen in the area. This may not be scientifically-proven, but I feel like it helps desensitise my body to the pollen.
I hope this guide to Hayfever has opened your eyes to the many Hayfever remedies and lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your symptoms.
Always remember to check with your Doctor or Pharmacist before trying anything new!
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