24 May 2019

Asthma and Hayfever

Every year up to 80% of people with asthma report worsening of their asthma symptoms during hay fever season. Hay fever season can span from March to October and can be triggered by several different pollens.

Hay fever is triggered by grass pollen in 95% of people. However, pollen can be released from spores, flowers, weeds and trees also. Different pollens are released at different times depending on the weather. It is helpful to check the pollen count daily to help take preventative action to control your symptoms.

During this period, you may find you have more shortness of breath than usual, as your airways can swell more. Your airways can become more sensitive to allergens like dust mites, animal dander, pollution, cigarette smoke or other pollutants. This causes symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest for asthmatics.

Preventive measures for asthmatics during hay fever season:

  • Start taking your antihistamines up to four weeks before you normally get symptoms.

  • If you suffer with allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal passages in response to allergens) start using a steroid nasal spray two weeks before symptoms usually occur.

  • Carry your reliever inhaler every day (blue inhaler). If you are going to be outdoors use the inhaler before doing so and throughout the day as required. This will help open your airways and is useful for bouts of wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath to give immediate relief.

  • Always use your preventer inhaler as prescribed by your doctor. It must be used consistently to help reduce inflammation and sensitivity in your lungs. It is a good idea to use your reliever inhaler a minute before using your preventer inhaler. This helps open the airways and allows the preventer inhaler work more effectively.

  • It is helpful to keep a diary of when your symptoms worsen and what the triggers are each year so as you can prepare for the following year.

  • Keep indoors on days where the pollen count is high and avoid parks and gardens.

  • Try not to wear your clothes directly after drying them outside. Shake them before bringing them inside to help remove pollen spores.

  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses to protect your eyes and use a barrier like Becodefence or smearing Vaseline under your nose to stop pollen spores causing irritation.

  • Wash your face and hands or have a shower after extended periods outdoors.

  • Clean and dust the house regularly whilst wearing a dust mask and do not keep fresh flowers indoors.

  • Try to keep pets outdoors during hay fever season and wash them before letting them inside to remove pollen spores from fur.

Treatment options in your pharmacy:

(Always read the label and ask in-store for the best treatments for you)

Antihistamines

These medications provide relief from nasal congestion, sneezing, dust mites and hives caused by pollen or animal allergies.

Cetrine: This is a once daily, non-drowsy antihistamine that can be taken for the duration of the hay fever season. It is suitable for adults and children over 6 years of age. It helps control symptoms of hayfever and other allergies. It can also help relieve symptoms of itching, swelling and redness of the skin. It is not suitable in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Zirtek liquid: is used for children as a twice daily dose depending on age (2- 12 years) to control symptoms. It is suitable for children under 6 years who cannot take the tablet form of antihistamine.

Other antihistamines include Clarityn, Lorat, Piriton and Zirtek tablets.

Eye Drops

Opticrom Drops: If you suffer from itchy watery eyes these drops can be administered four times a day in each eye to relive symptoms. It is suitable for adults and children. Each bottle lasts for 28 days before expiring and they can be kept in your handbag or pocket for convenient use. Do not wear soft contact lenses during treatment and avoid in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Optrex itchy eye drops: these are a safe option for pregnant and breast-feeding women with itchy, watery eyes. They contain natural plant extracts to relieve irritation by pollen, pet and dust mites. They can be used as often as required.

Barrier Nasal Spray

Becodefence: This product formerly known as Prevalin is available in a range of formulations to suit adults and children. The ‘Plus’ formulation reduces the bodies response to histamine and the ‘Kids’ formulation is suitable for 6 to 12 years of age. It is suitable for pregnant and breast-feeding women who cannot take antihistamines and other hay fever products. These products create a coating on the lining of the nasal passages to prevent irritation by pollen spores.

Steroid Nasal Sprays

These medicines have an anti-inflammatory effect. They treat symptoms such as sneezing, itchy or runny and blocked nose. They can be used with antihistamines or eye drops as required. Corticosteroids are more effective than antihistamine tablets at preventing and relieving nasal symptoms, including sneezing and congestion.

Flixonase: Flixonase allergy relief spray is a spray used to treat the symptoms of airborne allergies such as pollen, pet and dust mites and symptoms worsened by smoke or pollution. It works quickly to treat sneezing, itch and runny nose and eyes as well as easing the pressure around the eyes and nose. It is used once daily but only suitable from 18 years plus. It can take 3 to 4 days of continuous treatment to reach a maximum benefit. It can be used throughout the season.

Other Steroid nasal sprays include Nasocort and Beconase.

Saline Rinses

Sterimar and Neilmed can clear out the nose especially in the morning or at night. These can be used prior to using a steroid nasal spray to achieve maximum benefit. They can be used in conjunction with any of the products above.

Probiotics

Studies have shown that probiotics may help reduce Hay fever symptoms. They can be taken in advance of the they hay fever season and for the entire duration. The most useful probiotics to take are Bio-Kult Advanced multi-strain formula, Udos Choice Super 8 Gold microbiotic and Optibac Everyday. These probiotics are safe with the medications above.

For further knowledge and advice on your condition and to treat your symptoms please do not hesitate to call to one of or stores. Remember our stores also offer clinics on inhaler technique and other asthma related queries. Further information can be seen on our website or drop into a store.