These tablets are the most popular way of treating hayfever. When someone with hayfever comes in to contact with pollen, their body incorrectly recognises it as a dangerous substance and tries to protect the body through a process of inflammation (a blocked nose will prevent more pollen getting in). This 'protective' process is initiated by their immune cells producing a local hormone-like substance called 'Histamine'. It is this Histamine, which causes the immediate symptoms. Antihistamine drugs usually work by preventing histamine doing its job. Whilst this can work well, there are a few limitations. First the drugs can have side effects, the most marked one being drowsiness. This may be helpful with sleep disturbance, but not at work. Some newer drugs cause less sedation, but the use of heavy machinery is still not advised. Secondly, not all the symptoms of Hayfever are mediated by histamine, as its effects are only apparent in the first hour or so after pollen exposure - other substances take over which are not affected by antihistamines.
Most commonly these are provided as nasal sprays, as tablets will have too many dangerous side effects. Steroids act against some of the other mediators of inflammation, which take over from histamine. It can be very effective in reducing the lining and inflammation in the nose. The main problem with steroids is that it takes at least 24 hours to before it has any effect and usually takes several weeks to have a real impact on a blocked nose.
There are usually 2 types of eye drops used for hayfever. One type is a simple lubricant to help with dry eyes. The second type is a drug, which stabilises the immune cells, to prevent histamine being released. The problem with this is that it will only help with eye symptoms and it will have little effect once the symptoms have started.
There have been several types of treatment, which are mostly reserved for people with severe and sometimes life-threatening allergies. These complex medical treatments involve identifying the specific type of pollen causing the allergy and then exposing the patient to it in a controlled way in order to desensitise them. It is not suitable for most people and carries risks.
Qu-Chi Acupressure Band
An alternative to all the above treatments is the Qu-Chi Acupressure Band, a small device that rests on the crook of your elbow. It does not involve taking medication, and so there are no side effects. It is based on the principles of acupuncture, which has been used for thousands of years and is increasingly used by Western doctors and hospitals. The band applies pressure to the LI-11 point with a specifically designed plastic marble, which acupuncturists believe help alleviates the symptoms of hayfever. For more information about how it works, take a look at our dedicated How It Works page.
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