Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Is your hayfever under control?

It is Allergy Awareness Week in the UK, timed to coincide with the start of the hayfever season.

Hayfever is often thought of as a minor inconvenience - causing a slight stuffy nose, itchy eyes, an occasional sneezing fit ... But for many of the 18 million hayfever sufferers in Britain, it can cause significant distress. I know that when my hayfever flares up, I feel tired, heady and lose my concentration easily. Poorly controlled hayfever can lead to an asthma flare up and is a common trigger of sinusitis and ear infections at this time of year. So it's essential to make sure you are using the right medicines and products to ease your hayfever symptoms.

According to Allergy UK, millions of people don't find that their hayfever medicines effectively control their symptoms - and this is usually down to user error. New research by the charity reveals that while one in three hayfever sufferers use a corticosteroid nasal spray, only 14% are using it correctly. This means that for 86% of nasal spray users, the product won't work for them.

During Allergy Awareness Week, Allergy UK is urging hayfever sufferers to speak to their local pharmacist about their symptoms and how to use the nasal sprays properly. The key is to tip your head forward while looking down, insert the nozzle and spray towards the outside of your nose. Your pharmacist should be able to give you a demonstration if you are having problems with your technique.

If you use antihistamines for your hayfever, check that you are using the right one. According to Allergy UK research, 12% of hayfever sufferers are using sedating antihistamines (e.g. chlorphenamine), which can make you feel drowsy. You would be far better off sticking to one-a-day antihistamine products (e.g. those containing cetirizine, loratidine or acrivastine), as these won't affect driving, work or your social life.

With any over-the-counter medicines, always ask the pharmacist before you buy, to make sure the products are suitable for you and won't interact with anything else you are taking.

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