Nose sprays containing an anti-inflammatory “corticosteroid” is the best treatment for all the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. They need to be used every day because they help with the underlying swelling and inflammation and take a few days before they work, so can’t really be used just occasionally for symptom relief. The way that they are used is really important to make sure that they have the best effect. (See nasal spray and washouts)
Allergy (antihistamine) pills or syrup. Antihistamines are very good for treating the symptoms of itching, running and sneezing, but are less effective than nasal sprays on the blockage and have no effect on the underlying inflammation. All antihistamines are effective, but the older antihistamines can cause you to be very sleepy so are not recommended unless they are the only option available. Newer, “non-sedating” antihistamines are safe to use for a very long time, and are available from a pharmacy without a prescription.
Nasal washouts. Washing out all the allergens and snot from your nose is an excellent and natural way of treating hayfever. It is usually not effective just on its own, but may be an excellent help for the medication to work, especially if it is done before the nose spray is used, so the spray can reach the place where it works best. (See nasal spray and washouts)
“Vasoconstrictor” nose drops are drops or sprays put into the nose to shrink the blood vessels and provide fast relief from blockage. These are very effective for short term use, but should never be used for more than 5 days as otherwise the blood vessels “rebound” and cause even worse blockage. For this reason we don’t recommend them unless all other treatments are being used and even then for short times under the direction of your doctor.
Allergen Immunotherapy. If you are on all these treatments, taking them regularly and have tried to avoid your specific triggers your symptoms should be controlled! If you are still struggling with your allergies you should contact a doctor with experience in allergy to ask whether you qualify for immunotherapy. This is when the doctor actually gives you the thing that you are allergic to (as a drop under your tongue) every day to try to trick your body into becoming resistant to the allergy! This treatment needs a lot of dedication because the drops are taken every day for at least 2 to 3 years! (See immunotherapy brochure)