Hay fever is a more common term for one form of allergic rhinitis, and is a seasonal allergy to pollen. The same symptoms can be caused by perennial allergy to year-round allergens such as animal dander, mould and house dust mites. Symptoms include runny itchy nose, sneezing, tearing, itchy, red, puffy eyes and nasal congestion, due to local inflammation caused by the allergic reaction. All these symptoms can affect daytime alertness and cause problems sleeping.
Antihistamine nasal sprays
The antihistamine azelastine works by binding to histamine (H1) receptors in the cells of the nasal passages and blocks the action of histamine, a chemical released from mast cells in response to allergens like pollen. Azelastine also acts directly on the mast cells to reduce the amount of histamine released. A nasal spry provides fast-acting medication at the site where it is needed; it takes effect rapidly within 15 minutes and lasts for up to 12 hours.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays
Corticosteroids used in nasal sprays include triamcinolone, mometasone, beclomethasone and fluticasone. These corticosteroids are used as topical anti-inflammatories and work by blocking the production of inflammatory chemicals, like prostaglandins and leukotrienes in the nasal passages. This action reduces symptoms of inflammation, like mucus production, swelling and irritation, which helps relieve symptoms of allergy including runny itchy nose, nasal congestion and sneezing.
Mometasone is also used to treat nasal polyps, which are growths in the nose that often develop at the same time as allergic rhinitis and are thought to be caused by the allergy.