Olympic fever! Gold medals! Sunshine! What more could we ask for?
For some, however, the appearance of the sun again, means misery. Runny eyes, scratchy throat, sneezing – yes it’s the return of the hay fever season.
You may have seen Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2 presenter of the Breakfast Show, mention in one of his Tweets that he had forgotten his hay fever shot one morning. There was an article in yesterday’s Daily Mail entitled “Jab to protect against hay fever”. What are these “shots”, “jabs”, “injections”? Maybe like many others you thought the only treatment for hay fever was anti-histamines!
Although, as far as I am aware, the NHS does not routinely offer any form of desensitisation, there are several treatment types available privately.
The ‘jab” mentioned in the Daily Mail particularly targets birch pollen allergy. It is thought about one in four of the 13 million hay fever sufferers, are sensitive to birch pollen. That vaccine is still under development and although Professor Kay from the National Heart and Lung Institute in London, welcomed the development, he stressed a licensed vaccine could still be years away.
Another method mentioned in a different article for treating hay fever with injections is Pollinex Quattro which has been around for 10-15 years.
A method which many people have found helpful is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). A number of drops are taken daily and the treatment is continued for six months of the year, February to July, with the intention that after 3 – 5 years there will be a long term remission (i.e. “cure”).
Although both the above methods of desensitisation are available at our clinics, our first choice of treatment, and that we see a high degree of success with, is called Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD). This is a cocktail of various common inhalant allergens. The treatment usually simply requires two or three small injections, a minimum of two to three months apart, given by the doctor or nurse, before your hay fever starts. This means the treatment has to be planned for in advance. For instance, if your symptoms start in March then injections need to be given about December and February. As the amount of allergen given is small there is a gradual build up so the more treatments given the higher the degree of success. After 3 or 4 years some patients stop the treatment to see if their symptoms return. Some return just for an annual booster, others find they do not need to continue the treatment any longer.
Our second choice for inhalant allergies is Neutralisation which you can read more about on our website.