As our pollen levels increase at this time of year, so do the number of people suffering from hayfever. Allergies affect 1 in 5 of us and range from being a nuisance to having a significant impact on quality of life, with persistent symptoms affecting sleep, mood, concentration and behaviour.
For mild symptoms, try taking an antihistamine, either in a nasal spray or tablet. Use them regularly or just when required, as both are quick to work. For moderate to severe allergies, add in an intra-nasal corticosteroid spray (INCS), as they are more effective for controlling sneezing, itching and congestion. These include Beconase, Becloclear, Flixonase, Dymista.
Over the season, the body may become more sensitive to allergens so react more, causing symptoms even when there are less allergens present. Evidence suggests that INCS suppress this process, so are best used early (even 2-weeks before) and continuously through the pollen season. They do take 1-3 weeks to reach their maximum effect and need to be sprayed using a crossover method – right hand into left nostril and vice versa.
Other treatment options include saline nasal sprays to improve symptoms and reduce the amount of medicine required. Decongestant sprays may be used short-term if congestion is significant and antihistamine eye drops added in if the eyes are itchy or watery. Making changes in your lifestyle may also reduce your symptoms, try to:
- Find out what you are allergic to and avoid it;
- Eat a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and add in horseradish, garlic, bromelain and vitamin C to manage allergies naturally;
- Reduce alcohol;
- Wipe over surfaces with a damp cloth and vacuum often with a hepa filter. Choose 400+ thread count linen and wash in a wash >60oC or tumble dry for 10-minutes once dry. Minimise your activity before 10:00am; keep windows closed; wear fitted sunglasses and select native plants when gardening.