If you're among the one in five Australians who experience hay fever symptoms each year, you know how debilitating it can be. However, many sufferers don't realise that using a combination of treatments can be more effective than simply taking the same medication over and over.
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, occurs when a person is exposed to allergens such as pollens, dust, animal hair, air pollutants and fungal spores.
While spring is the peak period for hay fever in Australia, many people battle symptoms all year round, such as sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, nasal congestion, throat irritation, itchy eyes, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue.
Many hay fever sufferers simply pick products off the shelf without talking to their doctor or pharmacist, which can lead to unsatisfactory outcomes.
We spoke to Amcal Chief Pharmacist Brinley Hosking about the latest findings in hay fever treatment.
Q: Is it safe to keep using the same hay fever medication for many years?
A. While most hay fever medications are suitable for long-term use, there are a few that are best used in short bursts and may cause issues - including worsening symptoms - if taken for longer. Ask your Amcal pharmacist about the recommended duration of treatment for your chosen medication.
Q: Is there a limit to how many antihistamines you can take in a day?
A: Different antihistamines have different recommended daily doses. If you find you are taking the recommended daily dose of your antihistamine and you're still experiencing symptoms, chat to your Amcal pharmacist about what options there may be for you. You may be able to add an additional treatment that targets your remaining symptoms, like a nasal spray for a runny nose, eye drops for irritated or watery eyes, or a skin treatment for itchy skin.
Q: If your usual antihistamine isn't working, what should you do?
A: Some people find different antihistamines work better for them, and this may change over time. If your usual antihistamine isn't working well to relieve your symptoms, talk to your Amcal pharmacist about what options might be right for you.
Q: Can using a combination of treatments be more effective?
A: Using a holistic treatment solution, such as combining an antihistamine tablet with a nasal spray, may help target particularly troublesome hay fever symptoms more effectively than using either treatment alone. Depending on your chosen treatment, this may be because the two medicines work in slightly different ways to relieve symptoms, or because one product provides a baseline level of relief while the other is delivered directly to the affected area; for example, the nose, in the case of a nasal spray.