How to beat allergies by Britain's top expert
To coincide with the launch of Mike Dilkes's latest book, Stop Allergies from Ruining Your Life, today the Mail on Sunday launched a series of articles written by Mike on the topic of allergies.
The 8-page pullout, covers a range of allergy-related topics, including hayfever management and prevention. You can read Mike's articles on allergies on the Daily Mail website. In this blog we offer an extract from the series which looks at the 'ladder of allergy treatments' which covers eight steps you can go through to manage allergies
Ladder of Allergy Treatments
Work your way from number one to eight, stopping when you find an intervention that works for you.
1. Sniffing salt water
Using salted water to remove dust, pollen and debris that collects in the nose is an effective way of alleviating cold-like symptoms. This is easily achieved with a plastic device called a neti pot, which flushes out the nasal cavity. You can get them from many High Street chemists. F
2. Simply use Vaseline
A thin layer of petroleum jelly rubbed around nostrils helps prevent particles entering the nasal passage. Essential at night, it also works fantastically in conjunction with the salt water washout or nasal sprays.
3. Antihistamine and sprays
Antihistamines reduce or block the histamine chemical, reducing bothersome symptoms.
They are available as a nose spray and eye drops over the counter.
Steroid nose sprays, available on prescription, are similarly useful as they dampen the immune system, reducing the over-reaction.
4. Mast cell stabilising sprays and eye drops
A substance called sodium cromoglycate can stop mast cells from releasing histamine, preventing symptoms. It is only effective for allergies that affect the nose, eyes or lungs and can be particularly impactful when used in combination with antihistamine and steroid sprays. The medication is available as a spray, drops and in inhaler form over-the-counter.
5. Antihistamine tablets
Stronger antihistamines are available in tablet form – both drowsy and non-drowsy types. Some are available over the counter, but the strongest require a GP prescription. When reading a label, check for the following active ingredients if looking for the drowsy type: chlorphenamine, hydroxyzine and promethazine. For non-drowsy: cetirizine, loratadine and fexofenadine.
6. Anti-asthma drugs
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY medication for asthma, called anti-leukotriene, can be helpful for hay fever and other inhaled allergies, but is only available on prescription. The tablets block the chemical leukotriene. This is released by the body when allergens strike, which causes inflammation in the nose and airways.
7. Steroid tablets
Steroids work by reducing the inflammation in the lungs, nose or throat, caused by the overactive immune system. Tablet-form steroids are usually intended for short-term use due to common side-effects such as vision problems, joint pain, anxiety or loss of appetite. If you experience any of these, contact your doctor straight away. Don’t worry, these symptoms are only temporary, but a GP may decide to make small changes to dosage and drug type.
8. Immunotherapy: A dose of what you’re allergic to
Administering a tiny dose of the substance you’re allergic to is said to desensitise the immune system to it, reducing the adverse reaction. This type of treatment is high risk and usually only considered by a GP in severe hay fever or other inhaled allergies once all other options have failed. It is an arduous course, taking several years.
Once you stop, symptoms that were reduced significantly can start to reappear.
Few qualify for it on the NHS and those who go privately will pay £9,000 for a three-year course.
If you need help on allergy-related issues, please feel free to contact Mike at his surgery. We have various articles and information on allergy across this website which you may find helpful: