Hayfever or Rhinitis affects thousands of people each year in the UK with symptoms ranging from inflammation of the nose, sneezing, blocked nose, itching and a runny nose. Eyes and the sinuses can also become inflamed and irritated.
The cause of hayfever is varied, but is typically due to infection, reactions to medicine, triggers from dust particles, or an allergy to pollen, for example. In the case of allergies, this happens in people who have a sensitised immune system, and when a substance such as pollen, dust, mites, or cat and dog skin is inhaled, an allergic reaction is trigged by an increase in the antibody IgE. The reaction then manifests itself as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and restricted airways.
The most common allergen (substance which causes an allergic reaction) is grass pollen. During spring and summer, sufferers are most affected due to both the natural release of pollen into the air and factors such as gardening and mowing the lawn also encouraging the movement of the pollen particles. For other sufferers who are also allergic to plant and tree pollen, they may be affected throughout the year.
For minor cases of hayfever, it is possible to manage the symptoms and avoid triggers by
- Avoiding pollens, moulds, dust mites etc.
- Using treatments that relieve symptoms
- Using treatments that attempt to change the immune system’s response to the allergen
For the majority of people, the most popular treatment is with an antihistamine, which typically comes in tablet form, liquid, and nasal sprays. Generally, newer forms of antihistamine medication are non-drowsy and only require one dose a day. They are particularly good at relieving itching, sneezing, and runny noses.
For people whose symptoms are more persistent and are affecting their daily life significantly, and in particular those with a blocked nose, steroid nasal sprays are available and are normally prescribed by a GP. Other alternatives include cromoglicate nasal sprays and specific drugs for people who also suffer from asthma.
Although allergy testing is not usually required for sufferers of hayfever, since the triggers are well known and relatively easy to manage, in some instances an allergy test may be carried out if the symptoms are particularly serious. In such cases, your GP may ask for or carry out a skin prick or blood test to try to identify any possible reasons for the severity of the sufferer’s reaction and help improve future allergy treatment.
We provide support and advice about allergy treatment in Surrey, helping people to overcome the symptoms and get on with their daily lives.