From air filters and vacuums to nose drops and acupuncture, a guide to the hayfever remedies that REALLY work
23:45 GMT, 9 June 2012
23:45 GMT, 9 June 2012
A doctor, a homeopath and a sufferer recommend treatments for a condition that brings misery to millions every summer. Their suggestions differ but there's one remedy they all agree on…
Bringing misery to millions every summer: There are many treatments on the market… but which one is best
THE ALLERGY CONSULTANT
Dr Adrian Morris
Dr Morris, of the Surrey Allergy Clinic, says: ‘Hay fever can ruin lives.
'It’s a miserable condition. Most people can rely on good advice from their local pharmacist and, thankfully, most allergy medications are available without prescription.’
TRY: Grazax, on the NHS and private prescription (pictured right).
HOW IT WORKS: Sublingual (under the tongue) desensitisation immunotherapy. Patients are given tablets containing grass pollen and, over time, they become desensitised and hay fever symptoms diminish.
It has had incredible results with symptoms gone within a season. But it has to be taken for three years to ensure long-term relief. The worst side effect is an itchy tongue.
A recent Cochrane meta-analysis of 42 studies showed a significant reduction in symptoms and medication requirements. It also shows efficacy in children.
DOWNSIDES: Needs to be started two months before hay fever season and must be taken every day. It’s expensive, at up to 100 a month if you pay for it yourself. Most PCTs won’t fund it.
TRY: Optrex Multi Action Eye Wash with eye bath, 3.89, expresschemist.co.uk (pictured above left).
HOW IT WORKS: Pour eye wash into the bath, bend head forward and place over the eye, then tilt back to gently slosh liquid over the eye. It rinses out the pollen and relieves itching and is recommended by the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
DOWNSIDES: Won’t help nasal problems and can’t be used with soft lenses.
DECONGESTANT NASAL DROPS
TRY: Otrivine Adult Nasal Drops, 10ml, 3.05, chemistdirect.co.uk (pictured above centre).
HOW IT WORKS: It contains xylometazoline which constricts the blood vessels in the lining of the nose and thus unblocks it – providing fast relief.
Mentioned in the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology guidelines for managing symptoms.
DOWNSIDES: Only use as directed on the box. Over-use causes a rebound effect and more congestion.
ALLERGY VACUUM CLEANERS
TRY: Dyson DC41 Animal, 398.99, dyson.co.uk (pictured above right).
HOW IT WORKS:
Rather than just a standard filter, these have extra powerful suction,
high dust removal and the ability to capture minute particles such as
Removing pollen from inside the house may help symptoms. Look for other cleaners accredited by the British Allergy Foundation.
DOWNSIDES: An expensive option.
Dr Charlotte Mendes Da Costa
Dr Da Costa is a GP and homeopathic doctor.
She says: ‘If patients have tried other remedies and prescribed medicines without success, or simply prefer not to take over the counter medication, homeopathy can be an excellent solution. It can be used either preventatively or as a treatment.’
TRY: Weleda Allium Cepa 6c, 125 tablets, 6.45, health-store.co.uk
HOW IT WORKS: Allium Cepa is a derivative of onion and it comes in tablet form. The principle of homeopathy is that like cures like.
A substance, such as onion, which would produce symptoms similar to hay fever in a healthy person, is given in a tiny and harmless amount, alleviating discomfort.
Systematic reviews and controlled trials have shown positive results for homeopathy and the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
DOWNSIDES: Whether it works depends if the remedy has been chosen correctly. Have a look on britishhomeopathic.org for more information.
TRY: Sterimar Isotonic Nasal Microspray, 100ml, 6.99, boots.com
HOW IT WORKS: /06/09/article-2157014-138738E2000005DC-32_308x196.jpg” width=”308″ height=”196″ alt=”Mixed pollens” class=”blkBorder” />
TRY: Ainsworths Mixed Pollens, 5.75, 120 tablets, healthstuff.co.uk
HOW IT WORKS: Contains grasses, cereals, blossom trees and weeds.
Needs to be taken before the season starts or two weeks before you’d expect to start having symptoms. May help to reduce the allergic response by reducing sensitivity to pollens. It’s non-drowsy.
DOWNSIDES: You need to be organised about taking it in advance of the season.
THE ALLERGY SUFFERER
Writer Alice Smellie, 39, lives in Berkshire with her husband and three children, aged three, six and seven. She says: ‘One of my earliest memories is of streaming eyes and nose while walking through a field of grass as a small child. Over the years I have tried virtually every remedy available.’
TRY: Opticrom Hay Fever Eye Drops, 5,74, thehealthcounter.com (pictured above left)
HOW IT WORKS: May contain antihistamines, decongestants and anti-inflammatories, to relieve sore eyes. Best used if your main problem is itchy, watering eyes or in conjunction with other remedies such as nasal sprays.
Mentioned in the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology guidelines as efficient in managing eye symptoms.
DOWNSIDES: You can’t always use these with contact lenses, so check the label. May sting or burn when first applied.
SALT PIPE THERAPY
TRY: The Saltpipe, 29.95, highernature.co.uk (pictured above right)
HOW IT WORKS: Helps to cleanse the respiratory system, and reduces inflammation in the airways. Clinical trials suggest it works for respiratory conditions and it is a registered Class IIa medical device. It cleared my sinuses and I could breathe more easily.
DOWNSIDES: May not be suitable for all sufferers.
TRY: Look on acupuncture.com for a practitioner – 40 and upwards per session (pictured right).
HOW IT WORKS: Tiny sterile needles are inserted into acupoints on the skin. This is said to balance the flow of energy.
A 2004 study in Germany showed that 85 per cent of patients on acupuncture and herbal medicine showed an improvement compared to those in a placebo group.
DOWNSIDES: May require expensive ongoing treatments.
TRY: Lloyds Allergy Reliever, 39.99, lloydspharmacy.com (pictured right).
HOW IT WORKS: Red nasal light is said to have an antihistamine effect, acting directly on the membranes within the nose to reduce histamine production.
Put the light emitting probes into the nostrils for three minutes, three to four times a day. A 2008 clinical trial showed 72 per cent of patients had a reduction in symptoms.
I found it effective, though I was using it in conjunction with other therapies at the time.
DOWNSIDES: No side effects but efficacy may vary.
ALLERGY CONSULTANT AND HOMEOPATH AGREE ON…
HEPA AIR FILTERS
TRY: Bionaire Plus Lifetime Hepa Filter, 79.99, breathing space.co.uk (pictured right).
HOW IT WORKS: It traps pollen particles from air so they aren’t floating around inside the room. Hepa (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) filters capture and remove the tiniest of particles.
Appropriate for severe hay fever. Look for those recommended by the British Allergy Foundation.
DOWNSIDE: Only works inside.
HOMEOPATH AND HAY FEVER SUFFERER AGREE ON…
TRY: Nelsons Nux Vom, 84 pills, 5.45. nutricentre.com (pictured below left).
HOW IT WORKS: The dried, ripe seed of the strychnos nux-vomica tree native to India is given for blocked noses and headaches. There has been some positive evidence from laboratory studies for nux vom as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
DOWNSIDES: Many medics argue that homeopathy is a placebo and works only if you believe it will do.
HAY FEVER SUFFERER AND CONSULTANT AGREE ON…
TRY: HayfeGUARD English Honey, Pollen and Royal Jelly, 280g, 14.95, thehivehoneyshop.co.uk (pictured below right).
HOW IT WORKS: The idea is that local honey is contaminated with local pollen, the ingestion of which desensitises you. Eat honey from within ten miles of your home two months before the pollen season.
DOWNSIDES: Not scientifically proven but harmless to try.
AND THEY ALL AGREE ON…
TRY: Clarityn 1 A Day (loratadine), seven tablets, 3.99, boots.com.
HOW IT WORKS: Hay fever occurs when the immune system mistakes pollen as harmful and produces histamine, a protein that protects the body’s cells.
It causes blood vessels to expand and skin to swell. Normally this allows immune system cells to be sent to the site of an infection.
But in an allergic reaction it triggers uncomfortable symptoms. Antihistamines block the histamine.
DOWNSIDES: Can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, nose, and eyes.