Prevention of hay fever may be possible if people learn to control their environment. You can help prevent or alleviate symptoms by avoiding exposure to allergens that cause all the miserable sneezing and itching. Here are some helpful tips for hay fever sufferers:
- Keep windows closed and use air conditioning at home and in the car to reduce exposure to outdoor pollens. If using air conditioning, keep the unit on the indoor cycle.
- Limit or avoid doing outdoor activities during peak pollen hours (between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.). Check daily pollen counts on TV or the internet, or in the newspaper.
- If you are outdoors for extended periods of time, make sure to shower and change clothes and shoes to avoid further contact with residual pollen.
- Don't mow lawns or rake leaves. These activities stir up pollen and mould.
- Don't dry sheets or clothes outdoors; they may trap with pollen and mold.
However, it's not always possible to control the environment or to eliminate or avoid allergens, especially those that are airborne. Many people need medication treatment for relief. Fortunately, most people respond well to treatment. Many of these treatments may be used together.
Oral antihistamines (e.g., desloratadine*, cetirizine, fexofenadine) are commonly recommended for mild hay fever. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose the medication best suited to your needs. For example, many oral antihistamines are now "non-drowsy." People with certain medical conditions (e.g., glaucoma, prostate problems) should consult with their doctor before using antihistamines. Some products contain antihistamines plus decongestants for symptom relief, and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes must be cautious with these types of medications and should consult their doctor first.
Corticosteroid nose sprays are the mainstay of treatment for moderate-to-severe hay fever. Over-the-counter normal saline nasal irrigation and nasal sprays can also be used to rinse irritants from the nose. Decongestant nasal sprays should not be used for allergy symptoms for more than 3 days because with continued use they can actually cause more nasal congestion, a condition called rhinitis medicanmentosa.
Specific eye drops containing antihistamines such as olopatatide or ketotifen can be used to help relieve itchy, tearing eyes.
Some people may find that if they start nasal sprays and eye drops before allergy season begins, they are more effective in preventing hay fever problems. Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should consult their doctor or pharmacist before beginning treatment for allergies.
If allergen avoidance and medical treatment for hay fever aren't effective, a good option is allergen immunotherapy. Allergen immunotherapy may be referred to as desensitization, hyposensitization, or simply allergen shots. Small amounts of the allergen are injected regularly, slowly increasing the dosage. The hope is that the immune reaction becomes weaker and weaker. Allergy shots are initially given 1 or 2 times each week. After about 6 months of weekly shots, maintenance treatment is started. Maintenance shots are usually given just once each month. After 3 to 5 years, some people are able to stop having shots.
Allergen immunotherapy isn't risk-free. Rarely, the patient may have a system-wide immune reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be fatal. People receiving allergen immunotherapy have to wait in the clinic with a physician present for half an hour after each shot in case there is a reaction. The best time to start desensitization is at the end of the annual allergic period.
There are also immunotherapy pills available that are placed under the tongue and taken daily.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Hay-Fever