Hay fever season is upon us and it is about to get worse with the impending heat wave. But instead of having to shell out for sprays and tablets, you can take longer lasting measures.
Due to supply issues and high demand for hay fever medication, antihistamines, eye drops and nasal sprays have experienced shortages. As a result, many people consider hay fever injections as a possible alternative. But what are they, how do you get them, how much do they cost – and are they safe?
How do hay fever injections work?
Hay fever injection, known as Kenalog, is a corticosteroid that works by suppressing abnormal immune system reactions to pollen. Hay fever symptoms occur when the immune system misinterprets the pollen and produces antibodies to fight it, causing an allergic reaction.
READ MORE:Hay fever sufferers have been warned of sky high pollen levels as the 33C heatwave hits
Kenalog is not intended for people with ordinary symptoms of hay fever. Instead, it should only be used in hay fever sufferers with particularly severe symptoms who have found other treatments ineffective. This is an intramuscular injection normally given into the muscle of the buttocks, Reporting live from Birmingham.
Can you get hay fever injections on the NHS?
Hay fever injections are not available on the NHS. Kenalog (a brand name for triamcinolone acetonide) was once available to NHS patients, but in October 2019 the drug’s license to be used as a treatment for hay fever in the UK was withdrawn due to concerns about the risk of side effects.
However, some private clinics still offer Kenalog injections. Patients who receive hay fever injections usually only need one in each hay fever season.
Are hay fever injections safe?
Kenalog has been removed from the NHS due to safety concerns. Health authorities warn that the injection can make patients more susceptible to infections such as influenza, chicken pox and shingles.
Other potential side effects may include increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and mental health issues such as depression and mood swings. Some patients may also experience unusual weight gain and menstrual cycle changes, among other side effects.
Where can you get hay fever injections and how much do they cost?
People can still legally obtain Kenalog privately, but clinics are banned from promoting it under UK advertising rules. In November 2020, the MHRA (Government Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) asked a number of companies to change their advertising so that prescription-only medicines not licensed to treat hay fever would not are not promoted. He also said that patients should be informed of the risks of using unapproved treatments such as Kenalog (triamcinolone) during the consultation.
According to the Daily Mail, some private clinics are still advertising Kenalog on Instagram for between £35 and £100. The Advertising Standards Authority has already sanctioned four clinics for advertising these hay fever injections online.
Margaret Kelman, a specialist nurse for the charity Allergy UK, said people with hay fever were not recommended to receive these injections “under current UK guidelines because of the health risks and side effects. side effects of this type of medicine”.
The NHS says GPs usually prescribe steroid treatment, such as a steroid nasal spray, and if that doesn’t work you may be referred for immunotherapy. This involves receiving small amounts of pollen as an injection or tablet to slowly build up your pollen immunity.
This type of treatment usually begins in the winter about three months before the start of the hay fever season. However, immunotherapy is a specialized service that may not be available everywhere.