In this article we will talk about hayfever, and some of the treatments available such as antihistamines, hayfever injections, and other forms of immunotherapy. We will discuss how the hay fever injection works, who can benefit from them, and what to expect during and after the injection.
Hayfever, or pollen allergy is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is an allergic reaction to certain allergens present in the air.
90% of hayfever is caused by grass pollen allergies and manifests by rhinitis or a runny nose.
Hayfever is significantly more prevalent in the spring and summer months, as that is when plants and trees release their pollen.
While there are several treatment options available for hayfever, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays, some people may not find enough relief from these. Others may find that the relief is only for a very short term and the symptoms will tend to correlate to the daily pollen count.
In recent years, hayfever injections, also known as allergy shots, immunotherapy, or Kenalog (triamcinolone) have come to the market. These are becoming popular options for people seeking more long-term relief from these hayfever symptoms.
What are hayfever injections?
A hay fever injection is a type of treatment that can reduce the symptoms of hayfever. Although the majority of people will have their hayfever symptoms relieved by antihistamines, these may not work in severe cases.
There are essentially two types of hayfever injections.
Kenalog Hay Fever Injection
One type of hay fever injection that has been approved and previously used on the NHS is called Kenalog and contains a steroid called Triamcinolone. This is currently available in UK and is administered by some private clinics but is no longer available on the NHS.
The steroid hay fever injection is given into a large muscle, such as the buttock. Once inserted, the muscle acts as storage for the steroid, which slowly leaks into the body over the spring and summer months. Being a strong steroid, it can therefore combat the hayfever symptoms exactly when you need the relief the most.
These are however not currently recommended by Allergy UK due to safety concerns.
Immunotherapy Hayfever Injections
The other hay fever injection is also known as immunotherapy. Immunotherapy involves gradually introducing small amounts of the allergen into the body over a period of time, usually several months. For example, immunotherapy for hayfever would start in the winter months, prior to the spring and summer pollen seasons.
The goal of immunotherapy is to help the immune system become less sensitive to the allergen by exposing it to increasing amounts of the allergen in a controlled and safe way. This process helps the body build up a tolerance to the allergen and thus reduces the severity of hayfever symptoms over time.
While both of these options can be a highly effective treatment for hayfever, they may not be for everyone. For this reason, it is important to discuss with a specialist allergist to determine whether hayfever injections are right for you. A specialist doctor can also provide you with more information about the benefits and possible side effects of the treatment you choose.
Dr Elena Salagean is a consultant allergist who offers allergy testing, management and treatment options in the UK. She has been quoted by numerous journalists in the UK and USA and is also a researcher and published author on Pubmed.