Dr. Rosemary Leonard answers a question on chronic hayfever in the company of Emma Howard.
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Host: Hello! We're answering questions on health and medical problems. I'm joined by Dr. Rosemary Leonard. Hello! Dr. Rosemary Leonard: Hello! Host: Rosemary, we've got a question here from a woman, who is suffering from chronic hay fever, quite a common problem. She is saying that every summer, her life has made a misery by hay fever and I have constantly itchy eyes and can't stop sneezing, the usual symptoms and I am sure you know. I find that over-the-counter remedies, she is saying, just don't work and wants to know if there is something more powerful out there, so that she can start enjoying the summer months. Dr. Rosemary Leonard: The main thing what mistake the people make with hay fever is they just take antihistamine tablets and to control hay fever properly, you have to combine an antihistamine tablets which help stop mouth itching, with a nasal spray which can help stop your nose being blocked and runny and also with eye drops. So, it's a triple, three-way approach and the nasal sprays particularly, you have to use them regularly all the time through the hay fever season, even on rainy days when the pollen count is low because they work on a preventive basis. So you need to predict when your hay fever is going start and then start using the nasal spray two weeks before that and use it right the way through the season until the pollen counts come right down towards the middle and end of summer. Host: It's hard work, isn't? Dr. Rosemary Leonard: It is hard work. The good news about hay fever is most hay fever is caused by allergy to grass pollen and there is a new immunotherapy treatment that has recently become available. What this does? A hay fever is this over-reaction of the immune system to grass pollen and what this immunotherapy does, it's Grazax. It's a little tablet, you put on to the tongue and it makes your immune system more used to grass pollen. So, you put one of these tablets, which contains a tiny extract to grass pollen, you put it on to your tongue, everyday you need to use it for at least two months, for you to have any effect and it can reduce the severity of hay fever symptoms by at least 30%, and in most people, it's up to 50%. However, it's no good starting the treatment when you get the symptoms. You need ideally, you need to start this treatment in the autumn or in the winter and then your immune system is less likely to react the following summer. Host: So, if you're planning and you think ahead, it would be the right thing for you. Dr. Rosemary Leonard: Yeah absolutely, and it's available on NHS prescription. Host: Okay Rosemary, thank you very much for answering that question. Now if you have a similar problem, we hope we may have been able to give you some help but remember, as Rosemary said, it's always best to get and see your own doctor for medical advice. Thanks for watching; we'll be back with more health questions and answers.