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The Hay Fever 'Sneezing' is here!

Spring marks a wonderful time of year with a change in the weather and a fresh breeze in the air. However for those suffering hay fever the spring season can be unbearable!

Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis. It is an allergic reaction in the nose, throat and eyes. Hay fever often occurs in spring and summer, when it is caused by airborne pollens from trees, plants and grasses.

Hay fever is usually caused by inhaling pollens that are present in the air. Some people have symptoms of allergic rhinitis all year round. Constant symptoms can be caused by allergens such as animal hair, moulds, house dust mites and cockroaches.

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include: • sneezing • runny nose • blocked nose • itching nose, ears, mouth or throat • puffy, itchy, watery and red eyes • headaches • post-nasal drip (mucus from the nose and sinuses runs down the back of the throat), which can cause coughing • reduced sense of smell and taste • snoring • feeling tired, run-down, irritable.

Hay fever symptoms are often worse in the mornings, on windy days and after thunderstorms (when the amount of pollen in the air is highest).

An allergic reaction in the nose can also cause sinus problems, including pain and pressure around the cheeks, eyes and forehead. People who get allergic rhinitis often also suffer from other allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema or hives (itchy, lumpy skin). The symptoms of these conditions may appear or worsen when the allergic rhinitis symptoms appear.

A variety of medicines can help relieve and prevent the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. There are self-care measures you can take too. Most medicines are available from a pharmacist without a prescription. Some medicines for allergic rhinitis should not be used by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women or people with certain medical conditions. Always ask a pharmacist or doctor for advice.

Medicines for allergic rhinitis include:

• Antihistamines -reduce allergic reactions in the body. They can help relieve itching, sneezing, and nose and eye symptoms

• Decongestants – can clear a blocked nose or sinus congestion (do not use for more than 5 days in a row)

• Corticosteroid nose sprays – allergic rhinitis involves inflammation of the lining of the nose. Corticosteroids can reduce or prevent this inflammation

• Nasal saline sprays and washes, eye drops and pain-relieving medication

Visit your pharmacist on more self-care advice on treating hay fever.

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