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Alex asked...

Hayfever medication

Hi, I have been suffering from hayfever for the last 3-4 years, I have been to the doctors countless times to get medication and have also bought many different medicines from over the counter. However, nothing ever seems to work. I have been told there is an injection you can get which will get rid of hayfever, Is this true? My symptoms are itchy eyes and a blocked nose.

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The answer

Hayfever symptoms can make you feel miserable.

Most hayfever symptoms such as itchy eyes and runny nose can be controlled by regular use of antihistamines.

As you are probably aware nowadays there are non-drowsy antihistamines on the market, such as Cetirizine, Loratadine, Acrivastine, Desloratadine, Levocetirizine, Fexofenadine, Mizolastine and Bilastine.

If any of these do not control the symptoms then using sodium cromoglycate eye drops can be used alongside regularly to prevent runny or itchy eyes.

If you have a runny nose or blocked nose despite taking an antihistamine tablet then you can use steroid nasal spray as well as the antihistamine.

If you suffer from asthma you can use a steroid inhaler in addition.

If these medications fail to control your symptoms then your doctor can offer oral steroids.If you suffer from asthma then you may be offered leukotriene receptor antagonist such as Montelukast or Zafirlukast.

For people with severe hay fever with potentially life threatening allergic reactions where all other medications have failed to control the symptoms then immunotherapy can be offered under the specialist supervision. This can be in the form of injections or sublingual preparations.

If you fall into this category then your doctor will refer you to an allergy specialist who will determine the particular allergen you are sensitive to by performing an allergy test.

You will then receive injections that contain that particular allergen extracts that you are sensitive to. You will be injected under the skin of the upper arm.

These injections will be given at a clinic or a hospital with resuscitating facility in case you have an anaphylaxis reaction. Once you have the injection you will be asked to wait for about an hour or so depending on the hospital or the clinic protocol to check you are ok.

Subsequent injections are given at weekly intervals until you are stabilised. Each time the allergen dose will increase. Once you are stabilised you will have injections every few weeks for at least 2 years.

You may get itching and swelling at the injection site. You may get an itchy rash and or a runny nose. The newer injections are more purified so they tend to be better tolerated.

Omalizumab injections are used to prevent severe persistent allergic asthma.

Pollinex injection is used for the treatment of allergic hay fever due to tree-pollen in those patients who have tried all other anti-allergy medicines.

Sublingual desensitized immunotherapy (SLIT)is an alternative to immunotherapy injections. SLIT includes Grazax tablets and Staloral drops. These contain grass pollen. The tablets or the drops are placed under the tongue and allowed to disperse. They encourage your immune system to form antibodies so allow your body can get used to the grass pollen. You can have a mild allergic reaction so the first dose is given under medical supervision and the patient is observed for half an hour to one hour after the dose. The treatment with Grazax needs to begin 2-3months before and during the hay fever season. It needs to continue for three years to gain the maximum benefit.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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