Many people suffer very distressing symptoms of hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) in springtime. This is due to allergy, usually to the pollens of particular grasses.
In some cases, modern testing techniques make it possible to identify which grasses cause a person's allergy. The allergy can then be treated by immunotherapy. This involves making up a mixture of whatever a person is allergic to and giving regular tiny amounts in gradually increasing doses. This is usually done by injections at weekly intervals over several months.
It has been shown that, for some patients identified with strong allergies to grass pollens, immunotherapy can dramatically reduce their symptoms for up to 3 years. After that they may need to repeat the course of injections, or have regular booster shots to maintain their immunity.
Immunotherapy is a fairly time-consuming procedure, so the treatment is generally limited to those who have severe hay fever that is not well controlled with medicines such as nasal sprays and antihistamines.
If you suffer from bad hay fever, with symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes, discuss allergy testing with your doctor. You may be one of the lucky ones who can be helped.
Last Reviewed: 20 March 2009