Q& A

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - ADVICE -

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

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