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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : October 2006
allergy relief from anti-histamine tablets, they should start taking an intra-nasal corticosteroid spray as well. ‘Then there are things like saline sprays for the sinuses. Peo- ple forget that the sinuses run across the face, they think that sprays just go down the back of their throats.’ Correctly advising on multiple therapies requires careful questioning, she said. ‘You have to ask people: what is the most annoying symp- tom? Is it pain? A lot of people have associated pain, which often indicates that the allergic symptoms have gone to an infection. ‘Or is it the sneezing, the runny nose? What are you try- ing to control? If it’s an associated headache, try to get rid of the pain first and then look at the cause, using sinus washes, for example. ‘Prevention is the best thing. That’s where the intranasal corticosteroids are so good. If you leave allergies unchecked there’s a chance that the sinuses can become infected. ‘It can be hard to get information out of these people, and so you have to ask them the right questions. Yes-no questions don’t help. Pharmacy assistants should be able to get to a point where they know it’s bad enough to call the pharma- cist over. But they also have a strong role in offering things like intranasal corticosteroids and saline sprays. ‘This multi-therapy approach depends on the severity of the condition, but there’s the opportunity in pharmacy to offer a few different treatments for different people.’ The AstraZeneca research showed that one in two suffer- ers would prefer to use combination therapy—an intranasal corticosteroid spray as well as an antihistamine—rather than an antihistamine alone to manage their symptoms. And nearly two-thirds of chronic sufferers (defined for the purposes of the survey as those who experience nine or more hay fever bouts a year) said they would purchase both treat- ments at the same time. In need of sympathy The research showed that only 14 per cent of hay fever suf- ferers find that non-sufferers are understanding, and make any allowances for the sufferers’ behaviour, when they see the impact the symptoms can have. The survey also showed that as many as 30 per cent of hay fever sufferers believed non-sufferers probably did not think about how they were affected; while 13 per cent claimed that non-sufferers don’t really understand how much the symp- toms could affect them. Only 38 per cent of sufferers said that non-sufferers were ‘reasonably sympathetic’ towards them, and almost two- thirds (64 per cent) suffered their symptoms in silence. Less than a third (31 per cent) would tend to talk to people around them about how the symptoms faffect them. Hay fever sufferers are most likely to talk to family mem- bers (27 per cent) or close friends (22 per cent) about how their symptoms affect them, but are less likely to talk to work colleagues (16 per cent), a pharmacist (14 per cent) or their doctor (13 per cent). ¦