THE symptoms of hay fever are a response to exposure to an irritant or allergen. The immune system responds by releasing histamine, a chemical that has a myriad of effects. The most common allergens for seasonal sufferers are grass and tree pollens, with weeds, moulds and fungi also playing a role.
Other irritants such as exposure to fumes and exhaust can often add to the problem and as a result many urban dwellers suffer more. Avoiding most of these substances is virtually impossible, so for many people finding a way of controlling their symptoms becomes an annual crusade. There is no medical cure for allergic rhinitis but is it is possible to hit each symptom and so a combination of remedies often works best.
Treatments are most effective if started before symptoms start. I recommend starting medication around St Patrick’s Day. Antihistamine tablets block the release of this hormone and can be very helpful. The older ones can be very sedating and must be taken several times a day so the newer, less-sedating once-daily tablets are probably a better choice.
The next weapon in the medical armoury is a steroid nasal spray. These take a few days to kick in and are designed to be taken daily through the season.
The third treatment is eye drops. Itchy, red eyes are often a very distressing symptom and the regular use of the correct drops can bring great relief. Lastly, nasal rinses are now recommended to help reduce the presence of allergens in the nasal passages.
Allergies can disrupt sleep, but there are a few things you can do to get a more restful night.
Take a close look at your bedroom. You should remove any carpets or rugs, as these trap dust. Don’t allow pets to sleep in your room. Use