Spring is well and truly upon us and for most people it just means longer days and warmer nights with more opportunities to get to the beach. However, for some, it brings with it a terrible runny or congested nose, red, itchy, irritated eyes and a constant sneeze. These are the symptoms of hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis. As the name suggests, allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction, usually to environmental exposures such as pollen or dust mites, and results in the common nasal and ocular (eye related) symptoms. Luckily, there are many treatment options!
Corticosteroid nasal sprays
Intranasal corticosteroids such as Mometasone (Nasonex) have the most evidence. They offer both symptom relief as well as long term prevention. They are most effective when they are used consistently throughout spring for seasonal sufferers and can provide relief from both nasal and ocular symptoms.
Antihistamines have been the mainstay of treatment for a long time. They provide rapid relief of sneezing and a runny nose but often fail to relieve congestion. They act to dampen down our body’s response to the exposure but will do nothing to prevent the reaction itself. Less sedating antihistamines such as fexofenadine (Telfast) are generally preferred over sedating antihistamines such as Promethazine (Phenergan) due to the better side effect profile.
Decongestant Nasal Sprays
Intranasal decongestants such as Otrivin plus are extremely effective in immediately relieving both a congested nose and a runny nose. They are mainly used in cold and flu situations, however can be used for up to 5 days to relieve severe hay fever. They work by constricting the blood vessels supplying the nasal passages, reducing the secretions.
There are also numerous other products that can be tried including Saline nasal sprays, intranasal Ipratropium bromide (Atrovent) and Probiotics, especially bifidobacterium, (Inner Health Plus, Bioceuticals Ultrabiotic). These can all be good options in certain situations!