Medicine Informations

What is hayfever?

Also known as allergic rhinitis. Its an allergic reaction in the nose, throat and eyes commonly in spring and summer from inhaling airbone pollens from trees, plants and grasses. But some people can still get hayfever all year round when they inhale allergens such as animal dander, mould spores and house dust mites.

What are the signs and symptoms of hayfever?

The symptoms of hayfever are:

-Sneezing, runny nose, blocked/stuffy nose in 1 or both nostrils,

-Puffy, itchy, watery and red eyes

-Itchy nose, ears, mouth or throat

-Post nasal drip (mucus in throat) causing a cough

-Decreased sense of smell and taste

-Feeling tired and irritable

-Dark circles and bags under eyes.

Hayfever symptoms are usually worse in mornings and on windy days when pollen levels are highest.

An allergic reaction in nose can lead to sinus problems or symptoms which include sinus congestion and/or pain and pressure around cheeks, eyes and forehead.

People who get hayfever often have other allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema (itchy skin rash) or hives (itchy lumpy skin) and these symptoms may appear or get worse when hayfever symptoms appear.

Complications of allergic rhinitis may include:

- Sleep disturbance           -  Daytime tiredness     - Headaches     - Poor concentration 

- Recurrent ear infections in children      - Recurrent sinus infections in adults   

- Asthma which is more difficult to control

 How can I manage my hayfever?

-       Identify and avoid exposure to the responsible allergens that trigger your sympoms.

-       Stay indoors when pollen count is high eg on windy days

-       Keep house and car windows closed during pollen season

-       Use air conditioning &/or air filtering systems during pollen season and keep them clean.

-       Shower and wash your hair after being outdoors.

-       Wear wraparound sunglasses and face mask when gardening or near grass

-       Remove house and garden plants that cause hayfever

-       Avoid cigarette smoke and make your house smoke free

-       Avoid room deodorisers, mothballs and insect sprays

-       Regularly clean your house to remove mould and dust

-       Remove dust with clean damp cloth and vacuum instead of sweeping

-       Reduce dust collectors eg. Dried flowers, stuffed animals, curtains and upholstered furniture especially in              bedrooms

-       Replace carpets with hard surfaces eg. Timber or tiles

-       Enclose mattresses, quilts and pillows in washable dust mite resistant covers or use low allergy bedding                products

-       Wash bed linen weekly in hot water or use anti dust mite washing product. Leave blankets and quilts in               sun for at least 4 hours to kill dust mites

-       Wash soft toys regularly in hot water

-       Remove sheepskins, hides and woolen and feather bedding from bedroom

-       Keep animals outdoors

-       Repair plumbing leaks to prevent mould

-       Avoid wood burning fires and kerosene heaters

What treatments are available for hayfever?

A variety of non prescription medicines can help relieve hayfever symptoms and prevent them from recurring. They include:

1)    Antihistamines:

-       reduce allergy reactions in the body and can relieve itching, sneezing, runny nose and eye sympoms

-       can give immediate  symptom relief

-       available as tablets, syrups, nasal drops and sprays and eye drops

-       drowsiness is a side effect of some oral antihistamines. Non-drowsy antihistamines also available.

2)    Decongestants:

-       reduce nasal and sinus congestion

-       can give immediate relief

-       available as tablets, syrups and nasal drops/sprays

-       don’t use nasal drops/spray for over 5 days in a row to avoid rebound nasal congestion

3)    Corticosteroid nasal sprays:

-       allergic rhinitis involves inflammation of nasal lining. These sprays can reduce or prevent this inflammation.        Eg. Rhinocort, Budamaxx, Beconase, Flixonase, Telnase.

-       Can relieve and prevent all symptoms of hayfever including itching, sneezing, runny nose, blocked nose               and eye symptoms.

-       Can give some relief within few hours but several days of regular use may be needed to get the maximum           effect.

-       Need to be used continuously throughout the allergy season to prevent symptoms.

4)    Other treatments:

-       Ipratropium nasal spray can immediately relieve runny nose

-       Saline (salt water) nose spray/drops and sinus rinse can help clear mucus from nose and sinues

-       Lubricant eye drops (artificial tears) may relieve mild eye symptoms

-       Pain relievers can relieve sinus pain.

5) Allergen Specific Immunotherapy 

This is also known as desensitisation. It involves the administration of regular, gradually increasing amounts of allergen extracts, by injections or by sublingual drops or tablets (under the tongue). Treatment is usually for 3-5 years and is typically offered for individuals > 5 years of age with severe allergic rhinitis. The therapy reduces the severity of symptoms and/or the need for regular medications. Immunotherapy is long term treatment that should be initiated by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.

When should I see a doctor?

If you experience the following symptoms with your allergy symptoms:

-       fever

-       ear ache

-       swollen glands in neck

-       yellow, green or creamy discharge from eyes

-       yellow/green mucus in nose

-       shortness of breath or wheezing

-       persistent cough

Where can I get more information about my hayfever?

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Healthdirect Australia