Pollen allergy treatment

Pollen allergy should be treated by a customized therapy.

© by aha! Swiss Allergy Centre - Info on allergies - Pollen allergy treatment - nasal spray, tablets, Drops, Eye dropsThere are various pillars of treatment – depending on the severity of the symptoms. They range from allergen avoidance to drug therapy through to specific immunotherapy.

Allergen avoidance

You should avoid contact with the pollen that triggers your allergy so that your symptoms can be prevented or reduced. The following tips and tricks should help you do this: 

  • Get detailed up-to-date information about the pollen count at www.pollenundallergie.ch (German, French, Italian). Adapt your outdoor activities accordingly. 
  • During the pollen season, windows should only be briefly opened wide to air rooms. During prolonged periods of rain or when pollen screens have been fitted to the windows, you may ventilate more thoroughly.
  • Fit pollen filters in your car (if they are not already built-in) and keep them well maintained.
  • Wash your hair before going to bed.
  • Do not dry laundry outdoors.
  • Only stay outdoors for brief periods when the pollen concentration is increased. Indoor types of sport are suitable forms of physical exercise.
  • Wear sunglasses.
  • If you have additional, pollen-associated cross-reactions to foods, avoid consuming these foods before any sports activities.

Drug treatment

Various medicines can be used to treat the symptoms of pollen allergy. The most important groups of active substances include antihistamines, corticosteroids (cortisone drugs), leukotriene antagonists and mast cell stabilizers.

Antihistamines block the allergic reaction by ensuring that histamine receptors in the body are occupied and histamine is hence unable to exert its action. Corticosteroids are hormones found in the body and taken as medication, which inhibit the production of inflammatory messengers in the cells. Leukotriene antagonists negate the effect of certain inflammatory messengers (leukotrienes). Mast cell stabilizers ensure that the mast cells do not release any inflammatory messengers. 

The treatment should be agreed precisely with the attending physician to ensure the pollen allergy symptoms can be successfully combatted. 

The following types of medication may be used:

Eye drops

Eye drops are used to treat red, itchy and streaming eyes (allergic conjunctivitis). The eye drops may contain active substances from the group of antihistamines or mast cell stabilizers. As eye drops are used at the specific site of the event and are able to act at that location, they are unlikely to have any side effects.

Nasal spray

A runny, blocked or itchy nose (allergic rhinitis) can be treated with a nasal spray. Nasal sprays containing corticosteroids, antihistamines or a combination product (antihistamine and corticosteroid) are used to relieve the symptoms. An improvement in the allergic rhinitis may also have a positive effect on the eyes. Nasal sprays act locally where the symptoms occur. This is why they are unlikely to have any side effects

Tablets

Tablets containing antihistamines or leukotriene antagonists and, in severe cases, corticosteroids can be taken to treat the symptoms of pollen allergy (allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis). Any side effects that may occur should be discussed with the attending physician. 

Drops

Drops are taken like tablets in order to treat the symptoms of pollen allergy (e.g. itching in the roof of the mouth, nose and ears, runny nose). The drops contain active substances from the group of antihistamines and in Switzerland they are mainly used for children.

Fighting the causes – Specific immunotherapy

Specific immunotherapy (desensitization) is the only causal treatment for pollen allergy. The pollen allergens are injected under the skin (subcutaneous administration; SCIT) or taken as tablets or drops under the tongue (sublingual administration; SLIT) in increasing doses over three to five years. The aim is to get the body slowly used to the allergen and thereby build up immunological protection that will reduce or even prevent further allergic reactions. The objective of immunotherapy is a reduction or complete absence of symptoms.

This information can never replace a visit to the doctor, but merely provides advice to sufferers.
 

Editors: aha! Swiss Allergy Centre in co-operation with the Scientific Advisory Board.
 

aha! Swiss Allergy Centre helps

  • aha!shop: other booklets and factsheets provides detailed information and are available in German, French, Italian
  • aha!kinderlager for children with allergies aged between 8 and 12 years (in German or French)
  • aha!jugendcamp for youngsters aged between 13 and 16 years (in German)
  • Other education and courses on the subject "Neurodermatitis", "Anaphylaxis" (in German)
  • We value your opinion. Or would you like to exchange experiences with other sufferers? Find out more in german under "Advice and exchange"  (in German)

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