An allergy is caused when the body becomes unusually sensitive to a particular substance such as pollen or dust (these are known as allergens). For a lot of people, these substances cause no problems but for people who are sensitive to them, exposure can cause their immune system to attack the allergen by releasing histamine and other chemicals into the body. These cause the familiar symptoms of asthma and hayfever.
hayfever is an allergic reaction to airborne substances such as pollen and spores that get into the upper respiratory passages – the nose, the throat and the eyes. Once in contact with pollen, your body produces antibodies which stimulate cells to release chemicals such as histamine which then trigger an allergic response. In the nose, the tissues swell and causing the typical hayfever symptoms.
In the UK, up to 25% of the population are affected, with around 90% of hayfever sufferers allergic to grass pollen.1
Not everyone suffers from hayfever. For reasons that are still uncertain, some individuals develop an unusually strong reaction to substances such as pollen and they are the ones that get hayfever symptoms. For some people it runs in families – you may be more likely to get hayfever if one or both of your parents suffered from it.
Symptoms can be controlled through treatment with products like Nasacort Allergy, but you can’t get rid of the allergy itself. Hayfever is most common in teenagers and young adults and many people find their symptoms lessen in middle age.
No, hayfever is more of a nuisance than a danger to your health but it can have a significant effect on quality of life and work. Some hayfever sufferers are more vulnerable to other allergic respiratory diseases such as asthma. If you do suffer from hayfever, do what you can to avoid substances that bring on your symptoms and use treatments such as Nasacort Allergy.
The pollen count is the number of grains of pollen per cubic metre of air, averaged over a 24 hour period and reported along with the weather. A count of under 30 is considered low, only very sensitive people will be affected. 30-49 is moderate and may produce mild symptoms. 50-150 is considered high to very high and will probably cause symptoms in most people with hayfever. Pollen counts are affected by the amount of rain, sunshine and wind.
The hayfever season runs from about April to September, with grass pollen peaking around June and July. Tree pollens tend to start earlier in the year and mould spores occur in the autumn.
The most usual hayfever treatments available from your chemist are antihistamine tablets and corticosteroid nasal sprays. Antihistamine tablets are taken by mouth and start acting immediately but they may not control all hayfever symptoms, particularly a blocked nose. Modern antihistamines can be taken once-a-day and have few side effects but some older treatments have to be taken up to 6 times a day and can make you drowsy.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays are now recommended by the medical profession as treatments for hayfever. They are very effective against all hayfever symptoms (including a blocked nose) and some products need only be taken once-a-day. They do not make you feel drowsy but they usually take a few days to reach their full effect. All corticosteroid nasal sprays obtained from your chemist should only be used on adults over 18 years old – younger sufferers should see their doctor.
Corticosteroids are different from the ‘steroids’ taken by body-builders or sportsmen and women that you may have heard about. Corticosteroids are relatively safe, highly effective at treating hayfever and have few side effects. Ask your chemist if you want more information.
Nasacort Allergy contains triamcinolone acetonide, a powerful corticosteroid used by the medical profession to treat allergies for many years, and now available from your chemist. It is effective at treating all hayfever symptoms and needs to be taken only once-a-day. Its special formula means that it ‘stays where it’s sprayed’- this means that when the spray reaches the tissues in your nose it sticks there, and less of it is likely to run out of your nose or down your throat. Studies have shown that many people prefer the smell and taste of Nasacort Allergy to those of some other nasal sprays.
1 Source - Management of Hay Fever in the Pharmacy: Mason P, Pharm J, 2003, 270, 443-445
2 Source - ABC of Allergies, ed Durham SR, BMJ Books, London, 7th impression 2004, Chapter 5
Date of preparation March 2011. GB.TRM.11.03.02
Nasacort Allergy Nasal Spray contains triamcinolone acetonide. Always read the label.