Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common allergic condition that affects up to 30% of the world’s population. Hay is not the cause of hay fever, and the reaction does not cause a fever. The condition is common and affects 40 to 60 million Americans. You are more likely to get hay fever if you have asthma or allergies, parents with allergies, a mother who smoked before your first birthday, or a home with allergens. The common symptoms of hay fever include:
A runny nose with clear mucus
Excess tear production in the eyes
Traditional Drug Therapy
Many people do not treat the symptoms of hay fever. However, treating the symptoms can bring much-needed relief from the annoying symptoms. Typical treatment for hay fever symptoms include:
Corticosteroid nasal sprays
The goal of immunotherapy is to make the body less reactive to environmental triggers. The therapy involves skin testing to determine the allergen and then the administration of shots that contain small doses of the substance often on a weekly basis.
A New Vaccine
A research team from the University of Copenhagen are developing a new vaccine for hay fever. The team hopes that the new vaccine will reduce treatment times and increase the effectiveness of treatments. It is currently in the earliest research stage with testing on mice. There is hope that the vaccine may help to develop other vaccines including one for autoimmune disorders.
The researchers use birch as the test allergen while attaching sugar molecules to improve the effect of vaccination. The attachment of the sugar molecules ensures that an allergen reaches the correct cells in the immune system and increases uptake of the vaccine which improves the effectiveness of the vaccine. The researchers hope to test more types of sugar molecules to develop the vaccine further.
The goal of the researchers is to make the vaccine effective enough for use on human allergy patients. The method, which includes the use of sugar molecules, might be useful for optimizing treatments for other diseases. Combining the sugar molecules with different proteins instead of allergens is one example of the possibilities.
As the researchers continue their development of a hay fever vaccine, there are steps you can take today to alleviate the symptoms of hay fever. These steps include:
Stay indoors during peak pollen counts and windy days
Close windows and use the air conditioner
Wear a mask when working outdoors
Wash your sheets and blankets often
Wash your hands after you touch animals
Keep humidity levels down in the home by using dehumidifiers and air conditioning
If you have hay fever, the best step you can take is to avoid environmental triggers. If your symptoms are causing discomfort, numerous drug therapies may help reduce your symptoms. Immunotherapy is another way to treat the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. Hopefully, the exciting research taking place at the University of Copenhagen will continue to shed light on hay fever and the discomfort it brings each year.