When you have allergic rhinitis (hay fever), your body responds to airborne particles that it interprets as harmful. These could be plant or grass pollens, pet dander, dust mite or mould spores.
As a result, your body produces histamines to combat the allergen/s. These histamines cause increased mucus and inflammation of the nasal and sinus passages and can lead to annoying allergy symptoms such as a runny, itchy or blocked nose, sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, a tickly/irritated throat or cough and increased nasal or sinus congestion. Symptoms like these can also reduce the quality of your sleep, making you feel fatigued and generally unable to concentrate.
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One of the most effective and simplest strategies for hay fever symptoms is to use a preservative-free saline irrigation (a therapy that is also recommended by Asthma Australia). These saline sprays or washes work by washing allergens out of the nasal passages which help to reduce the allergic response.
Find out more about Saline nasal sprays: health benefits and when to use them
If your symptoms are more severe, there are medicated options that can be used along with saline sprays or washes. To reduce inflammation further your health professional may recommend an antihistamine and/or corticosteroid nasal spray. To be effective, corticosteroid nasal sprays should be used on a daily basis throughout the entire period when exposure to troublesome allergens is most likely. Ideally they should be started a few weeks before the allergen season begins. Antihistamine nasal sprays can be used as and when symptoms arise and can start to take effect in 15-20 minutes. If you have a severely blocked nose, your health professional may recommend a nasal decongestant first, however always remember these should not be used for longer than 3 consecutive days.