Hay fever is extremely common - it affects almost 18 million Americans. No matter where you are in the world, living with hay fever is no fun. It might disrupt your sleep, stop you from concentrating at work, and make you feel uncomfortable all round. There are various drugs which can help lessen the severity of hay fever, but what if they aren't working?

If you can't find any relief from your hay fever, it's time to see your doctor. They'll be able to recommend the most appropriate treatments to help you get some relief. Read on to find out exactly how your doctor can help.

Advise lifestyle changes

Medication isn't always the first recommendation when it comes to treating hay fever, as there are many small lifestyle changes which can make a big difference to your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Apply petroleum jelly around your nose to stop pollen entering.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
  • Dust and vacuum your home regularly.
  • Shower and change clothes after exposure to pollen.
  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Avoid spending too much time outdoors, especially on days when the pollen count is high.

If these measures don't help, your doctor will recommend additional treatment.

Prescribe medication

If you've tried over-the-counter hay fever drugs like loratadine and cetirizine but had no luck, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. Corticosteroids, often prescribed in the form of a nasal spray, can provide instant relief from an itchy, runny nose. Steroids can also be prescribed in tablet form to treat severe hay fever symptoms for short periods of time. Steroids can have some serious side effects, so doctors will usually only recommend them as a last resort.

If you suffer from asthma alongside your hay fever, your doctor can prescribe inhalers. These allow you some relief from the shortness of breath you might feel after spending too much time outdoors.

Refer you for immunotherapy

Hay fever is an allergy to certain types of pollen. If you have severe hay fever and other treatments aren't working, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in immunotherapy. Immunotherapy involves injecting small amounts of what you're allergic to into the body, gradually increasing the amounts over time. This allows your body to build up a resistant to the substance, meaning your symptoms will be dramatically reduced or alleviated entirely.

Before recommending immunotherapy, your doctor will carry out a skin prick test or blood test to work out which type of pollen you're allergic to. They may also ask you to keep a diary of your symptoms.

Don't let hay fever ruin your summer. Contact your doctor for help and advice today.