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Hayfever


Hayfever is a very common ailment affecting many people, fortunately it is usually only problematic during the spring and summer months. Hayfever is caused when the bodies defences over react to pollen released into the air by plants. The pollen causes release of a substance called Histamine from cells in the skin. It is this Histamine that is the cause of many of the symptoms; a blocked nose, itchy runny eyes and sneezing. There are a great many products on the market for this annoying condition, ranging from tablets and nasal sprays to eye drops and within each of these groups there are many possibilities. We will consider each of these in turn:-

Tablets

All of the tablets available for hayfever contain Antihistamines. They work by blocking the effects of histamine inside the body.

These antihistamines can be divided again into two broad groups, the 1st Generation and the 2nd Generation. The 1st Generation are the older type of antihistamines which are very effective but have the disadvantage of causing drowsiness in most people who use them, the 2nd Generation antihistamines are newer and tend to avoid causing this drowsiness, although it is not guaranteed in all users.

These are many antihistamines, some examples are Chlorpheniramnie, Terfenadine, Loratidine and Cetirizine.


Sprays

These sprays are for use in the nose and they can be divided into three further groups.

Steroids - these sprays act to reduce the inflammation in the nasal lining and therefore reduce the discomfort arising from the nasal cavity.

It is important to note that the use of nasal sprays avoids many of the associated side effects of steroids.

Some examples of sprays in this category are Beclomethasone and Flunisolide.

Decongestants - these act by reducing the blood flow in the nose, this will reduce the amount of mucus produced in the nose and also reduce the inflammation.

Some examples of sprays in this category are Phenylephrine and Xylometazoline.

Cromoglycate - this substance has an action that is not completely understood, however it is believed that it reduced the amount of histamine released upon contact with pollen.


Eye Drops

These are products aimed at the treatment of the itchiness caused in the eyes by the pollen. They contain similar ingredients to the nasal sprays, but they are specially formulated for use in the eyes.
Take care using these drops if you are a contact lens wearer.

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