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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

Your Guide to Beating Allergies This Spring

Posted Thursday 05 April 2018 13:08 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

While most of us look forward to the longer days and (slightly warmer) conditions in spring, there are some that approach the season with trepidation. Allergy sufferers.

Hay fever affects up to 30% of all UK adults, and as we enter the prime time of year for pollen allergies, many people will see their symptoms begin to worsen.

The warmer weather of spring leads to an increased pollen count. Here are just some of the symptoms which can occur:

  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Frequent coughing and sneezing
  • Headaches and earaches
  • Tiredness
  • Itchiness in the throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • Reduced sense of smell

But for those of you suffering with hay fever, fear not. We’re here to show you what you can do to reduce your symptoms and make the most of the new season.

What you should (and shouldn’t) do to beat hay fever this spring

If you worry that your hay fever symptoms are going to flare up this spring and summer, here are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make to give yourself the best chance of fighting off your allergies. We’ve also listed some of the things you should not do, as these can end up making your hay fever symptoms worse.

What you should do to avoid hay fever:

  • Reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors
  • Keep the windows and doors closed as much as possible to prevent pollen from entering your house
  • Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth, as this will remove any pollen from the home
  • Consider buying a HEPA filter vacuum which is specifically designed for allergy sufferers, and a pollen filter for your car
  • When you do go outside, wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes
  • Also, put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • When you re-enter the home, shower and change your clothes

What you should not do:

  • Keep fresh flowers in the home as they will bring pollen
  • Spend too much time outdoors. The longer you are outdoors, the greater your risk of symptoms occurring
  • Cut the grass or walk on grass
  • Dry your clothes outside, as they could catch pollen
  • Let pets into the home when they have been outside
  • Smoke, or be around others who smoke. Cigarette smoke can make your symptoms worse

Consider allergy relief medication

Hay fever can be a debilitating and frustrating condition when all you want to do is enjoy the warmer spring weather. Many people who suffer with allergies take medication to reduce their symptoms, particularly those who don’t want the pollen in the air to stop them from getting out and about. Telfast is a branded antihistamine while Fexofenadine is its unbranded equivalent. Both are effective and fast-acting medications for allergy relief, and are available from Express Pharmacy, but don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what some of our customers had to say…

On Telfast:

“I used these many years ago and the product still does what I want it to do. I’m very happy with that.”

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“This product is excellent.”

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On Fexofenadine:

“Better than any over the counter products.”

*****

“The product I ordered is very good, I have been using it for quite some time. I don’t know of any other pharmacy where I can buy it.”

*****

If you’re worried about your hay fever this spring, let Express Pharmacy help. Click here to find out more about the effective medications we offer. If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to call our friendly team on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet online Live Chat service.


Everything You Need to Know to Get Through Hay Fever Season

Posted Thursday 04 May 2017 19:11 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

hay fever medicationMany of us look forward to spring as a warmer, brighter time of year. Unfortunately, for a huge number of us spring also signals the start of the dreaded hay fever season. The key to dealing with hay fever effectively is to understand it – learn what to expect and how to treat your hay fever allergy in the best way.

What is hay fever?

Simply put, hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen is released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle, and levels are particularly high in the spring and summer months. These higher pollen levels lead to inflammation in the nose, which can cause pain, irritation and discomfort.

Symptoms of hay fever can vary depending on how severe the allergy is. They usually include itchy and watery eyes, a runny nose, frequent sneezing and an itchy throat, usually resulting in a cough. If the reaction becomes more serious, other symptoms can present themselves such as headaches, earache, tiredness, facial pain and even a loss of your sense of smell.

What causes hay fever?

Hay fever occurs in most people when the pollen count reaches higher than 10 grains per cubic millimetre. At this point, the allergic reaction takes hold and the symptoms present themselves. Pollen levels increase as the weather becomes warmer, which is why sufferers can feel completely fine for ten months out of the year and only start to feel unwell again once spring and summer come back around.

Hay fever is most commonly a reaction to grass pollen, though it can also be an allergy to tree pollen (released earlier in the spring) or weed pollen (released in the early autumn.)

What can you do to reduce symptoms?

There are effective medications which can help ease your hay fever symptoms (more on that below) but what about the things you can do to reduce your discomfort?

Wearing wraparound sunglasses when outdoors can help protect your eyes from irritation. Hay fever also irritates your nose as well as your eyes, making the skin red and sensitive, so get into the habit of keeping a tub of Vaseline with you and use it to moisturise the skin around your nostrils.

Try to stay indoors as much as possible when suffering from hay fever, and keep the doors and windows shut. If you are going out, you should shower and change your clothes as soon as you return home. Also, try to vacuum your home regularly to remove any traces of pollen you might be bringing in with you.

By implementing these factors into your routine, you could significantly reduce your hay fever symptoms.

What treatments are available for hay fever?

For most cases of hay fever, antihistamines are the most common and effective form of treatment. These are available at any well-stocked pharmacy, though you should try to purchase the non-drowsy variety so that they don’t affect your daily routine. Nasal sprays and eye drops are also commonly use to ease symptoms of hay fever such as itchiness, watery eyes and a blocked or runny nose.

Express Pharmacy offers a range of treatments for hay fever, helping you to enjoy the spring/summer season without worrying about allergies

Express Pharmacy offers the fastest and most convenient way to access medication for hay fever. Our range includes For Fexofenadine, Nasonex, Telfast and Mometasone. To find out more about the right solution for you, why not call 0208 1230703.


Prepare Yourself for Hay Fever Season

Posted Sunday 15 May 2016 22:27 by in Hay Fever and Allergy Relief by Tim Deakin

As we head deeper into spring and the prospect of summer comes tantalisingly close, many people will be celebrating the improved weather, the longer days and lush greenness that comes with the warmer months. But thousands of other people will be slightly more apprehensive about the onset of summer as the pollen count climbs and we enter into the worst period for hay fever sufferers.

It's estimated that there are more than 10 million people with hay fever in England. Yet understanding of the condition is not widely known. Hay fever is an allergic reaction caused when the body's defences overreact to a perceived threat. When a hay fever sufferer comes into contact with pollen the immune system reacts with the same severity as it would if confronted with a virus. The result is a release of chemicals to stop what the body believes to be an infection.

In real terms, these chemicals are released when pollen comes into contact with the lining of the mouth or nose and aggravates the cells. It is the response of the body's own immune system that causes the symptoms we commonly associate with hay fever - such as congestion, sinus pressure, a runny nose, watery eyes, swelling and increased asthmatic reactions.

So what is the pollen that causes such a strong reaction in those with a sensitive nose? Pollen is produced by male plants as a form of asexual reproduction, and it will usually be picked up by the wind or various insects before being deposited on female plants. This is called pollination, and is what allows seeds to grow. However, the release of pollen into the air also increases the likelihood of it coming to contact with humans - resulting in an allergic reaction.

There are around 30 different types of pollen that are known to cause hay fever. These fall into three broad categories: grass pollen, tree pollen and weed pollen. Grass pollen is the most common cause of hay fever in the UK and affects 90% of sufferers, while tree pollen hits 25% of those with hay fever. The pollen released by weeds such as mugwort and nettles can also cause a reaction but it is the rarest of the three categories.

As the time when plants are at their most active, the spring and summer months are when hay fever sufferers are at the greatest risk of falling foul of classic symptoms such as a runny nose and itchy eyes. In particular, the grass pollen count is at its highest from mid-May through to July.

Fortunately, there are a range of hay fever treatments currently on the market. Many of these come in tablet form, such as the antihistamines Fexofenadine and Telfast. Antihistamines provide fast relief in the event of a reaction and can counteract the worst of the symptoms by preventing the release of the chemicals that the body uses to fight pollen. Corticosteroid nasal sprays like Nasonex and Mometasone can also get to the root of the problem quickly, soothing the symptoms of hay fever. A pharmacist may even recommend the use of a nasal spray as a preventative measure.

It is important to always pay attention to the usage instructions outlined by your pharmacist and on the packet before using either tablets or nasal sprays. Taking a higher dosage can increase the likelihood of side effects such as drowsiness, nose bleeds and headaches.

If you've been suffering from hay fever and want to find the right course of treatment for you, then speak to your pharmacist for expert advice. Don't let hay fever ruin your Summer, take back control with the help of your pharmacist today.