Decongestants for Hay Fever

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Decongestants in themselves will not alleviate all of the symptoms of hay fever. But they can help to reduce the symptoms of nasal congestion runny nose. They work by causing the vessels within the nasal passages to constrict, or become smaller. This reduces the blood flow to the nose. By reducing the blood flow to the nose the histamines released by an allergic response will not be able to accumulate there, thus reducing hay fever symptoms.

Types of Decongestants for Hay Fever & Side Effects

There are different types of decongestants available on the market. One of these involves using a nasal spray.  By gently inserting a special nasal inhaler into the tip of the nostril, a spray can be released into the nasal passage. Try to avoid inhaling too sharply, however, as if the spray is breathed in to deeply it will pool at the back of the throat and slide down into the oesophagus doing very little to help alleviate your symptoms. It will simply leave a bad taste in your mouth. By breathing the spray in gently it will be able to adhere to the nasal passage and reduce the runny, stuffy nose. One other thing to be aware of when using a nasal spray during the hay fever season is that it should not be used for more than five days at a time. Continual use without breaks in between will cause an irritation of the nasal passage lining. This in turn will cause a secondary swelling and congestion unrelated to the actual allergen causing the hay fever reaction. Try and alternate nasal spray use with a different type of decongestant for best results.

Another way to take decongestants is by taking a tablet or capsule. There are a variety of different products on the market to suit different needs based on strength and frequency of use. Read the labels carefully before taking decongestants as the side effects in some can be more apparent than others. Oral decongestants (those taken by mouth) can also be in the form of liquids or chewable tablets.

Other side effects of both nasal sprays and oral preparation decongestants can include dry mouth, dry eyes, increased heartbeat and headache. Decongestants are actually part of the same family that adrenaline is in. Adrenaline is the body’s natural form of decongestant. When hay fever reactions occur the body cannot always cope with the increased demand for adrenaline, which is why taking an additional decongestant is so helpful. As they are chemically related, they tend to produce rather similar side effects when present in the body in increased amounts. For example, preparations containing ephedrine can cause restlessness, anxiety and difficulty in sleeping for some, just as an adrenaline rush will.

It is very important to check with your GP before regularly taking decongestants if you have any sort of heart condition such as a heart that does not beat regularly (arrhythmia), increased or high blood pressure or a problem with increased pressure within the eye (glaucoma).

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