HAY FEVER symptoms often include sneezing and coughing, itchy red or watery eyes, and an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears. Nasal sprays are a popular form of treatment to remedy a runny or blocked nose, but using it for more than three days can have side effects.
Hay fever season is finally upon us, and to combat the runny noses and itchy eyes caused by the pollen in the air many of us will opt to take eye drops, nasal sprays and antihistamines.
The main symptoms people combat with these remedies include sneezing and coughing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears, loss of smell, pain around your temples and forehead, headache, earache, and feeling tired.
But, despite these products helping to ease the symptoms of hay fever, what many people do not know is that they can have some very surprising side effects.
For example, using nasal sprays for longer than two or three days can have a negative impact on your health.
This is the latest advice by Dr Daniel Fenton, medical director at London Doctors Clinic.
He said: “Nasal sprays are particularly helpful for the rhinitis (runny) or blocked nose symptoms, which antihistamine tablets may not always take care of.
“Beconase is always a good start, but mometasone (Nasonex) or Fluticasone based sprays such as Avamys and Dymista, can provide that next step for relief.
“The most important thing about nasal sprays is their correct use. They do not work immediately, and their effects are cumulative, meaning the longer you use them, the better the response – be patient.”
But Dr Fenton warned that prolonged use of over the counter decongestant nasal sprays can create a rebound of rhinosinusitis – inflammation of the sinuses – if used for too long.
He added: “In essence, they can make symptoms worse if used for more than two or three days.”
Whilst some antihistamines are marketed as “non-drowsy”, some individuals are particularly sensitive, and will still find themselves experiencing some fatigue.
Dr Fenton said: “Some lesser known side effects include a dry mouth/throat, dry eyes and blurred vision. Medications that block histamine receptors help allergic conditions, but these types of medications can reduce mucous and aqueous production, which cause dry eye and mouth complaints.
If you experience any of the side effects of hay fever medication you should speak with your GP.
Dr Fention said: “There is a multitude of alternative antihistamines, spray and drops that may be more suited to you.
“Alternatives even include using medications used in asthma, such as Montelukast, which is excellent for the runny nose component of hay fever. Using well-known antacids, like ranitidine – whilst most people associate their use with acid reflux and heartburn, they actually have a great antihistamine effect.
“When all else fails, you may consider the hay fever injection, which is a steroid-based injection. This is not to be taken lightly, as is not without risks, but may be beneficial to the most severe of hay fever sufferers.”
How do you know which hay fever treatment is best for you?
The truth behind hay fever treatment is that it can be trial and error, said Dr Fenton. You have to take the time to find the right combination of treatments for you.
He added: “Speaking to your GP to your GP is useful as they will take you through all of the options and recommend, prescribe and administer hay fever medications as needed.”
As it is essentially an inflammatory condition, reducing intake of pro-inflammatory foods such as sugar, refined carbs, vegetable and sunflower oils and trans-fats found in processed foods, while following an anti-inflammatory diet, high in anti-oxidants and phytonutrients from colourful fruit and vegetables, is recommended.
In addition, there are nine hay fever fighting foods that may be particularly effective at reducing inflammation and keeping pesky symptoms at bay, such as apples, as revealed by nutritional therapist Hannah Braye.