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Can These Foods Help You Avoid Hay Fever This Summer?

Posted Tuesday 25 June 2019 19:43 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

Summer is a time for long days, warm weather, fun and relaxation, but for many of us it’s also a time when hay fever symptoms rear their ugly head.

Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is a condition that occurs due to an allergic reaction to pollen. It affects up to one in five people at some point in their life, and is often at its most common during the spring and summer, when tree and grass pollen are most populous.[1]

Symptoms of hay fever usually include:

Itchy eyes and throat

Sneezing

Blocked or runny nose

Watering, red eyes

Headaches

Blocked sinuses

Shortness of breath

Tiredness[2]

There are many reports of potential cures for hay fever, including certain foods. But how effective are they?

Berries, ginger, citrus and more

A diet rich in antioxidants can help to alleviate symptoms of pollen allergy. In fact, antioxidants like Quercetin and the polyphenols have been shown to reduce sneezing in those allergic to pollen and dust. These antioxidants can be found in common fruits, herbs and vegetables such as red apples, onions, garlic, grapes and berries.[3]

Quercetin works in synergy with another important antioxidant: vitamin C. Found in citrus fruits, broccoli and dark leafy greens, vitamin C is an important anti-allergy component as it strengthens the immune system, calming allergic reactions due to its anti-inflammatory properties.[4]

Speaking of anti-inflammatory properties, spices like ginger and turmeric are among the most effective ingredients, inhibiting the production of the inflammatory compound histamine.[5]

Tried and tested methods for dealing with hay fever

It’s important to remember that, while increasing your intake of these foods may help reduce your symptoms, they don’t offer guaranteed success if used alone.

The NHS provides several key tips for reducing the impact of hay fever during peak times of year. These include:

Putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen

Showering and changing your clothes after going outside

Staying indoors whenever possible

Wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes

Vacuuming regularly and dusting with a damp cloth

Keeping windows and doors shut

Investing in a pollen filter for your home air vents[6]

Combining treatments and precautionary methods can give you a greater chance of success when it comes to keeping your hay fever symptoms in check.

Medication can help you enjoy the summer without worry

For many people, antihistamine medication is necessary in order to ensure regular relief from hay fever. Unlike the foods mentioned above, these medications are specifically designed to tackle the impact of hay fever on your health and wellbeing during peak times of year, meaning they’ll probably be more reliable when it comes to alleviating your symptoms this summer.

Both oral medications and steroid nasal sprays can help encourage an anti-inflammatory response to your hay fever, offering significant daily relief.[7] Studies have found medication options such as Fexofenadine to be a clinically effective option for the treatment of hay fever, and one which offers minimal side effects.[8]

You can find safe and effective allergy relief medication like Fexofenadine, Telfast and Nasonex right here at Express Pharmacy. And if you have any questions for our team, call us today on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] NHS Inform. Hay Fever. 2019

[2] Allergy UK. Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis). 2019

[3] Barszcz, N. What to eat to beat hay fever. Healthy Magazine. 2018.

[4] Holford, P. Seven nutrients that work for hay fever. Patrick Holford. 2018

[5] Mashhadi, N.S., Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013.

[6] NHS UK. Hay Fever. 2017

[7] Asthma UK. Hay fever treatments.2019

[8] Simpson, K. Jarvis, B. Fexofenadine: a review of its use in the management of seasonal allergic rhinitis and chronic idiopathic urticaria. Drugs. 2000


The Relationship Between Alcohol and Hay Fever

Posted Tuesday 04 June 2019 23:10 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

alcohol and hay fever

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is thought to affect between 10 and 30% of all adults and up to 40% of children.[1]

But studies have suggested that the symptoms of hay fever – such as sneezing, coughing and a runny nose – could be made worse when alcohol is consumed. Let’s take a closer look at this theory.

How does alcohol worsen symptoms?

Alcohol can indeed make hay fever symptoms feel worse, but it’s not the alcohol itself which does this, it’s the substances found within your alcoholic beverage.[2]

Beer, wine and many liquors all contain histamine. This is produced by yeast and bacteria during the fermentation process.[3] The problem with this is that histamine is the very substance we are trying to defend ourselves against in the hay fever cycle.[4] Hence why hay fever medication is often referred to as “antihistamines”.

This link between alcohol and hay fever has been shown time and time again through research. For example, one 2005 study based in Sweden saw scientists examine thousands of participants. They found that those diagnosed with hay fever, asthma or bronchitis were far more likely to experience symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing and ”lower airway symptoms” after having a drink.[5]

Are some drinks worse than others?

Alcoholic drinks like red wine, white wine, cider and beer are more likely to trigger your hay fever symptoms as they contain higher levels of histamines. Meanwhile, clear spirits like gin and vodka are less likely to trigger a reaction from hay fever sufferers as they contain lower histamine levels.[6]

So if you’re a hay fever sufferer, you may want to opt for a gin and tonic rather than a pint this summer.

Again, this has been shown through research. One study of thousands of women in 2008 found that having more than two glasses of wine a day almost doubles the risk of hay fever symptoms, even among participants who didn’t suffer from the condition at the start of the study.[7]

What else contains histamines?

Unfortunately, alcohol isn’t the only substance which can aggravate hay fever symptoms thanks to high levels of histamines. In fact, histamines are common in many food items, including:

  • Pickled or canned foods
  • Smoked meat products
  • Matured cheeses
  • Shellfish
  • Walnuts and cashew nuts
  • Vinegar
  • Chickpeas, soy beans and peanuts
  • Ready meals
  • Some salty snacks
  • Chocolate and other cocoa based products[8]

So if you’re suffering from significant hay fever symptoms, examining your diet may be a good place to start when it comes to treating them.

Treating hay fever this summer

The following measures are recommended for dealing with hay fever during periods of high pollen:

  • Putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes
  • Staying indoors
  • Showering and changing your clothes after going outside
  • Keeping windows and doors shut
  • Hoovering regularly
  • Buying a pollen filter[9]

Antihistamine medication is also strongly advised, as this can help you enjoy your summer more freely without worrying about your symptoms becoming uncomfortable or debilitating.

You can find safe and effective hay fever relief medication at Express Pharmacy. Get in touch with our team today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet Live Chat service.

[1] Allergy UK. Statistics. 2019.

[2] Asthma UK. Asthma and alcohol. 2018.

[3] O’Connor, A. The Claim: Alcohol Worsens Allergies. The New York Times. 2010.

[4] McKenna, P. PhD. speaking to Harvey-Jenner, C. Why drinking alcohol will make your hay fever worse. Cosmopolitan UK. 2018.

[5] Nihlen, U. Greiff, LJ., Nyberg, P., Persson, CG., Andersson, M. Alcohol-induced upper airway symptoms: prevalence and co-morbidity. Respiratory Medicine. 2005.

[6] Asthma UK. Asthma and alcohol. 2018.

[7] Bendtsen, P. et al. Alcohol consumption and the risk of self-reported perennial and season allergic rhinitis in young adult women in a population-based cohort study. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. 2008.

[8] Histamine Intolerance Awareness. The Food List. 2017.

[9] NHS UK. Hay fever. 2017.


Is the Common Cold More Common in Spring?

Posted Tuesday 07 May 2019 16:32 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

common cold

As its name suggests, the common cold is one of the most prevalent health conditions around the globe. Almost all UK adults will experience a cold at some point int their lifetime, but luckily, the condition tends to be mild. Usually lasting no more than a week or two, the common cold can generally be treated with rest, sleep and plenty of fluids.[1]

Although we tend to think of a cold as something that strikes in winter, research shows that the condition can easily catch us off guard as the weather gets warmer.

Are colds more common in spring?

A study published in the American Society for Microbiology found that, although the common cold is most dominant in winter, the arrival of spring sees it get a second wind.[2] So though the cold can be seen as a winter condition, it can still strike as the temperature rises.

This is partly because any shift in climate and season can leave us more vulnerable to illness. Our bodies get used to dealing with a certain kind of environment, so when that changes it can force the body into a period of adjustment. This is a view shared by Dr Bradley Chipps, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, who states that changes in barometric pressure, temperature and wind can compromise your immune system’s built-in defences against cold and flu.[3]

It’s also possible that people are more likely to venture outside in spring and interact with others. This is good for our overall health, but potentially risky when it comes to colds. The weather may have warmed up a bit but could still be cool enough to encourage the spread of cold viruses. Factors like these may account for studies that have found spring to be an even more important time for rhinovirus transmission than the early autumn.[4]

Are spring and summer colds worse than their winter counterparts?

The rhinovirus is the most common cause of the cold, responsible for as many as 50% of cold infections.[5] Rhinovirus has been shown to thrive best in colder, drier climates[6] but other causes of cold-like symptoms, such as enteroviruses, are more common in the summer and can lead to more severe symptoms.[7]

A study published in Health Psychology found that spring and summer colds can feel worse than winter ones because they’re unexpected, and patients feel like they’re suffering alone. In other words, feeling like your missing out on fun in the sun can actually make your symptoms feel worse.[8]

In some cases, people may experience cold-like symptoms when they’re actually suffering from common springtime health concerns – typically hay fever. Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an allergic reaction to pollen, which starts to become more prevalent in the atmosphere during spring. Between 10 and 30% of all adults suffer from hay fever[9], and symptoms can include sneezing, coughing, a blocked nose, itchy eyes, headaches and lethargy, all of which are also common in colds.[10]

So while the common cold may be at its most common in winter, it’s a good idea to take precaution against the condition all year round.

Find safe and effective antihistamine medication here at Express Pharmacy. Click here to see our hay fever treatments for yourself or get in touch with our team today by calling 0208 123 07 03. You can also use our discreet Live Chat system to discuss your health concerns.

[1] NHS UK. Common Cold. 2017

[2] Jacobs, SE., Lamson, DM., George, KS. & Walsh, TJ. Human Rhinovirus. American Society for Microbiology. 2013.

[3] Heid, M. Why are you more likely to get sick when the seasons change? TIME Magazine. 2018.

[4] Monto, AS. The seasonality of rhinovirus infections and its implications for clinical recognition. Clinical Therapeutics. 2002

[5] Annamalay, AA. et al. Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Human Rhinovirus Infection in Healthy Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Western Australian Children. 2013.

[6] Ikäheimo, TM. et al. A Decrease in Temperature and Humidity Precedes Human Rhinovirus Infections in a Cold Climate. 2016.

[7] NIH. Catching a Cold When It’s Warm. 2012

[8] LeRoy, AS., Murdock, KW., Jaremka, LM., Loya, A. Loneliness Predicts Self-Reported Cold Symptoms After a Viral Challeneg. Health Psychology. 2017.

[9] Allergy UK. Allergic Rhinitis (Hay fever). 2013

[10] NHS UK. Hay Fever. 2017


How to Spot the Differences Between Hay Fever and a Cold

Posted Monday 18 March 2019 13:31 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Johanna Galyen

hay fever medication

As the cold weather turns into springtime, we start to feel the urge to get outside and enjoy the flowers, budding trees, gentle breezes, and sunshine. The excitement of the warmer weather can quickly dampen with the coming of hay fever season. But is it really hay fever? Is the scratchy sore throat a sign of allergies or an infection? Isn’t it still cold and flu season? Should I just stay home from work? Before the panic starts to ensue, let’s stop for a few moments and look at the eight differences between hay fever and the common cold.

1: The common cold is caused by a viral infection

According to Medical News Today, the common cold is most frequently from coronaviruses or rhinoviruses. While there are over 200 subtypes of viruses that can cause these symptoms, it is usually impossible to tell which virus is making a person sick. Thankfully, these viruses are generally short-lived, and you’ll start to feel better pretty soon.

2. Hay Fever is caused by an allergic reaction

pollen countThe body protects itself through the immune system. The immune system works 24:7 to protect you from germs, viruses, and bacteria. For those susceptible to hay fever, the pollen is identified as an invader and many symptoms like allergic rhinitis can be seen. Just know this: your immune system wants it gone!

To get rid of the allergen, the body produces histamine. Histamine is similar to a chemical messenger in that it signals your body to start making more fluids and mucus to trap the invader and flush it away. What does that mean for you? Hay fever can produce watery eyes, fluid in your ears, congestion in your nose, and a draining-like sensation in the back of your throat.

As annoying as these symptoms are, the body is just trying to protect itself from the foreign invaders. To treat these symptoms, your GP may recommend some antihistamines (a medicine that fights against the histamine).

3. An itchy throat is different than a sore throat

When you first notice that dreaded feeling in your throat, stop and evaluate what you are really feeling. There is a difference between a dry, scratchy (itchy) throat and a painful throat. Pain and soreness usually indicate an infection like the common cold. Severe throat pain may mean that you have a bacterial infection like strep throat.

A scratchy, itchy feeling in your throat is typical of allergies. This feeling is caused by the presence of pollen or growing grasses that irritates your nose and mouth.

A word of caution: An itchy throat is also a sign of a dangerous allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. It may be accompanied by a swelling or a tight closing sensation in the back of your throat. Sometimes, a person’s voice may start sounding – typically higher-pitched and more strained. If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately by calling 999.

4. Check the colour of your mucus

This may sound a little bit gross, but the colour of your mucus is helpful to determine if you have allergies or illness. Clear drainage is typical of allergies whereas shades of yellow and green can indicate an infection. If you are seeing green, then you should be seeing your general practitioner.

Here’s a tip: don’t check the colour of the mucus for the first few hours when you wake up. During the night, the mucus can dry out somewhat, and it naturally turns yellow, greenish, and brown. Wait a few hours, and then see what colour it is.

5. Look at your eyes

The Eyes are the window to your soul – Shakespeare

Shakespeare wasn’t a physician, but he was very accurate when talking about the eyes. How your eyes look also can reflect your health. Symptoms of hay fever that involves the eyes can include:

  • Redness around the eyes
  • Itching of the eyes
  • Clear watering or tearing of the eyes
  • Puffiness around the eye
  • Pain around the sinuses

Sometimes a cold virus can affect the eyes, so it is important to highlight how the similarities and differences. Those who have a cold virus may experience:

  • Redness of the eye (also known as pink-eye)
  • Soreness around the eyes
  • Yellow or green drainage (worse in the mornings)
  • Painful eyes
  • Sinus pressure and pain

Remember, if you have yellow or green drainage coming out of your eyes, this should be handled carefully. The drainage can carry the virus and can be shared with others, so wash your hands frequently!

6. Timing is important

The timing, or the progression of a cold virus, is different than allergies. A cold often comes on slowly over a few days and progressively gets worse. Allergies can attack you at any time with any range of severity. How long that you are ill is also important to note. The common cold typically lasts up to 14 days. Allergies can last for weeks and months.

Here’s a tip: check the pollen counts for the day, and see if you should protect your nose and mouth from the pollen before you go outside.

7. Do you have body aches and a fever?

Aching joints and muscle pains are often the symptoms of the common cold or flu virus. These typically occur at the beginning of the infection. Additionally, if your body temperature goes above 37.6° C, this usually indicates that you have a fever as your body is trying to kill the virus.

Seasonal allergies, like hay fever, do not cause body aches or fever in most people. Some people may experience a slight increase in temperature, but it is really a fever unless your temperature passes 37.6° C or 100.4° F.

8. Is there an Allergic Salute?

Just as a member of the military salutes a higher-ranking official, there is a salute for allergies. The so-called allergic salute refers to the constant wiping of one’s nose. It can create a small red crease on the bridge of the nose, and it is most often seen in children. Adults, who suffer from hay fever, can also have this redness.

Those with the common cold typically have red, puffy noses from constant blowing, but they do not have the crease on their nose or are seen wiping it continually.

Knowing the difference between hay fever and the common cold is important for your health. In some situations, you may need additional support, treatment, and medication. Discover medication for a variety of health concerns – from antihistamines to nasal sprays – here at Express Pharmacy. We can help you gain access to effective treatment for hay fever swiftly and discreetly. Contact us today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our online Live Chat service.


Is Your Hay Fever Really Hay Fever?

Posted Monday 30 April 2018 09:48 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

Article updated December 2018

Allergy misdiagnosis is common in the UK, so it’s time to clear things up

Around one in four people in the UK now suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. This equates to 16 million people, compared to just one in eight during the 1980s. Indeed, according to experts from Allergy UK[i], this number may reach 30 million by the year 2030. In particular, it seems that there has been an explosion in the number of children and middle-aged people suffering from the condition. However, despite its common nature, detailed information about the condition remains hard to find.

Professor of the Royal Brompton allergy clinic in London[ii], Stephen Durham, says: “Family members, GPs, even patients themselves can dismiss hay fever as just a bit of sneezing, but for about 10% of sufferers it causes abject misery.”

Misdiagnosis is also common when it comes to hay fever, says Dr Adrian Morris of the Surrey Allergy Clinic: “Many go to the GP complaining of sinus problems and end up on antibiotics, when they really have hay fever and need antihistamines and nasal spray.”

However, Durham points out that the reverse is also true, saying that there are also many people convinced that they have hay fever when in fact they are suffering from a different allergy.

Allergy diagnosis

Often, it becomes easier to determine what kind of allergy you are suffering from once you determine the time of year that your allergy peaks. Of course, the question might not be “Do I have hay fever” at all, if there are other potential triggers for your allergy. But here are some of the most common sources of allergic reactions that can be defined as hay fever or display similar symptoms to hay fever:

Grass: Grass pollen is undoubtedly the most common and well-known of hay fever triggers. The typical pollen season lasts from the first week of May to the second week of September, with a peak from the first week in June to the last week in July.

Birch: Around 25% of allergy sufferers have an allergy to birch trees. This birch season is earlier than the pollen season, lasting from mid-March to the first week in June and peaking from late March to mid-May.

Mould: These allergies are the result of various common kinds of mould, such as Cladosporium and Alternaria. Mould allergies usually flare up in early autumn and late spring, particularly after a rain shower when the mould spores attach to water molecules in the air.

Oak: Oak allergies are usually mild, though can be more severe in some cases. The allergy season lasts from the first week of April to mid-June and peaks from the end of April to early June.

Nettle: Everyone remembers nettles for their painful stinging potential, but they can also be a source of mild allergic reaction. The season lasts from the beginning of May to the end of September and peaks from the end of June to the beginning of August.

Oilseed rape: Like grass, oilseed rape allergies come about as a result of airborne pollen. This allergy season for oilseed rape is earlier than that of grass pollen allergies, lasting from the end of March to mid-June. It peaks from mid-May to the end of June.

Pets: Unlike the other allergies listed, pet allergies are not dependant on the time of year. Cat allergies and dog allergies are the most prevalent causes of allergies in the UK, simply due to the proximity of these animals to us in our daily lives. As our pets shed hair and skin cells, these materials make their way into the air, carpets, bedding and furniture – providing a significant risk to those whose immune system is particularly responsive to these particles. Horse allergies are also not uncommon for those who come into contact with these animals.

Given the wide range of pollens and particles in the air throughout the year, it is not surprising that many people find that they suffer from year round hay fever – with allergies that can become particularly debilitating if left untreated.

In addition to the tree pollens referenced above, it is also possible to experience hay fever symptoms relating to:

  • Alder pollen
  • Ash pollen
  • Hazel pollen
  • Sycamore pollen
  • Willow pollen
  • Plantain pollen
  • Sorrel/dock pollen
  • Mugworth pollen

Which medication is right for you?

If you do determine that hay fever is responsible for your allergies, there are several treatment options for you to consider.

Fexofenadine: This is a popular unbranded hay fever medication which is medically equivalent to branded options but is more cost effective. It acts as an effective non-drowsy antihistamine by preventing the release of chemicals which cause hay fever symptoms.nasonex

Mometasone: This is another popular unbranded medication for allergy relief, this time in the form of a nasal spray. It can help tackle symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion.

Telfast: Telfast is the branded equivalent of fexofenadine, acting in exactly the same way to tackle hay fever symptoms.

Nasonex: Again, Nasonex is the branded equivalent of mometasone. It works to treat seasonal hay fever and year-round allergic rhinitis.

Each of these treatments can be prescribed by Express Pharmacy, depending on symptoms and your individual requirements. However, in cases where medication is not proving to be effective, it can be beneficial to request an allergy test. Allergy tests can take two forms and can be requested with an immunologist through your GP. They include:

Allergy skin prick test – small amounts of allergen extracts are applied to the skin surface in order to ascertain, whether the body has an allergic reaction. This test can be applied to not only pollen but also dust mites and animal hairs. Skin tests are also commonly used to diagnose nut allergies.

Allergy blood test – by taking a small sample of blood from a vein in the arm, it is possible to test for the Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody – the defence mechanism produced when pollen is detected.[iii]

Dust and dust mite allergy

dust mitesDust is a common culprit for allergy sufferers whose symptoms flare up in colder months, although symptoms can be present all year. Dust allergies tend to be worse indoors in winter due to central heating. While dust mites are a very different source of irritation to pollens, the symptoms of the human body’s allergic reaction can be very similar.

Dust mites are close relatives to ticks and spiders but are too small to see without the aid of a microscope. When dust mites are released into the atmosphere they may trigger inflammation of the nasal passageways, leading to the same type of sneezing and runny nose found in hay fever sufferers. Indeed, those who are susceptible to hay fever may also be inclined towards a similar reaction to dust and dust mites in the air.

Why are more people suffering from hay fever?

It is not known precisely why more people are suffering from hay fever today than were 30 or 40 years ago. However, it is thought that there could be a few contributing factors. One view is that the increasingly hygienic and sanitised world that we now live in tends to expose us to fewer threats to our immune system than would have been the case in previous generations. Anecdotally it appears that more people are suffering from hay fever onset in mid-life than ever before. And this has been attributed by some experts to people enjoying a cleaner environment in later life resulting in a sensitised response to pollen in later life.

Another factor which is thought to have contributed to the rise in hay fever sufferers is the documented increase on pollen count around the UK. While it may appear that cities are less likely to feature high pollen counts, traffic fumes have been found to help spread pollen and ensure that it is hard for city workers to escape the effects of hay fever.

Article updated December 2018


[i] https://www.allergyuk.org

[ii] https://www.rbht.nhs.uk/our-services/allergy

[iii] https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/immune-system/hay-fever#diagnosing-hay-fever

Comments

Jane Legg on Friday 18 May 2018 14:33

I have all year round an itchy running nose, I can only put this down to house dust/mould I take Chlorphenamine Maleate at night so i don't wake up in the night, can I get this on prescription from my doctor or can u suggest anything else

Reply
Ann Slater on Friday 13 July 2018 09:46

I am allergic to animals, dust and mould ( especially animals). Are you able to comment on which are the most effective medications for this ?

Reply