Allergies/rhinitis etc

So...last year I managed to develop hayfever.

I thought it was a mild seasonal thing. I don't really know what I'm allergic to because the tests come back negative, but I think it must be at least some trees (cons said presumably not the ones tested for but agreed if I was reacting around certain plants/trees it made sense to assume it was a reaction to those and they hadn't been included in the tests. I was sure birch was one but that came back negative).

However, it's winter now and I've still had issues with frequently blocked nose and watery eyes. Because the allergy tests were negative I don't know what it is - not pets I don't think as there are none where I live, and reallly hoping not dust as I don't want the faff - but can be just as bad out and about (would air pollution cause this?)

I'm on fexofenadine 180mg and also flixonase nasal drops - harder to apply than the Avamys spray I had before but seems more effective as it's the same steroid but I have far fewer issues with my nose at the moment though my eyes are watering almost all the time - still annoying but probably better for my sleep. Also on montelukast 20mg - that is meant to be for the asthma but I know it is an anti-allergy medication as well.

I didn't think I had 'allergic' asthma but then my total IgE also acts weirdly - 1024 which is really high when measured in Feb 2012, then 80 in July last year and 50 in Sept - cons is confused and so am I, not sure what would make it drop that much esp as allergic and asthma symptoms have if anything got worse. Poss pred as been on lots last year?

This is a bit rambling but basically as my asthma is being a massive massive pain right now (I am finding it really hard to get off pred and a lot of things are setting it off, having admissions more than I'd like etc (ok so I'd like none at all but still feel it's too many), I wondered how the allergy stuff fits in and what I could do about it, as possibly helping that might help the asthma too? I did ask cons about it on this basis but he seemed utterly uninterested and not inclined to pursue it any further once the allergy tests/IgE etc came back -just said keep taking the antihistamines and nasal drops which I am doing (and I'm grateful that he looked beyond the tests) but they aren't doing the whole job it seems so wondering if there could be an improvement made here and if that might in turn help the asthma.

KaylaCP, I know you have a lot of issues with allergies and think you see an allergist separately? But do others also see a separate allergy consultant or do you discuss it with resp consultant? My allergies aren't severe or life-threatening, just a bit annoying and as I said I feel like it might be worth looking into in case it helps with the asthma.

I have an appt on 5th Feb with asthma cons but there'll be a lot to discuss and not sure if there'll be time for this though I will try to raise it. I'm also seeing my GP this Fri (mainly to discuss clinic appt as she asked for it to be brought forward asap when she couldn't get me off the pred) but again timing issues and not sure if she can help?

Has anyone found the AUK nurses helpful here (I have found them really good on asthma advice but not sure if this is part of their remit)? THought I might give them a ring this week. I'd rather not have to see any more doctors if I can help it tbh - feel a bit over-doctored right now not to mention the appts are really awkward with work!

9 Replies

  • Philomela, have you checked out the Allergy UK site? They have an online chat thng which is often live with experts answering questions. I have used them once before and they were very helpful.

  • Oh I did see that but it said their helpline people weren't medically trained so wasn't sure if they could say much beyond the standard stuff? Is the live chat staffed by experts then? I have just had a look but can't find more info or when they are actually live - might send them a message.

    Thanks! :)

  • Well when I used it they certainly had instant answers so, if not experts, they have the information to hand. They had information that the registrars and lung function unit didn't know, put it that way.

  • Oh that would be good! Thanks :) I've sent them a message asking when they open -if not possble I'll email them a more detaled question.

  • Its very interesting that you suspect birch to be a problem yet it didnt show up - birch is one of the most common in OAS, and OAS is renowned for giving false negatives due to the way the allergens are processed. Im definately allergic to birch but always get negatives for it, and linked with it I now have to avoid raw stone fruit (plums, etc) tho can manage stewed.

  • Its very interesting that you suspect birch to be a problem yet it didnt show up - birch is one of the most common in OAS, and OAS is renowned for giving false negatives due to the way the allergens are processed. Im definately allergic to birch but always get negatives for it, and linked with it I now have to avoid raw stone fruit (plums, etc) tho can manage stewed. I've had birch pollen show up on skin prick tests once then not the next time. Can depend on time of year apparently I was told. It can be part of oral allergy syndrome and cross reaction to various foods.

    Philomela, could be rhinitis if all year round. Flixonase nasules are higher dose I believe than Avamys and awkward to use but worth getting right. You mentioned your eyes - is there anything you could try for them directly in terms of eyedrops?

    IgE again like other allergy testing is not always reliable. Mine is generally low but clinically reactions can be seen. I have ended up seeing allergy specialists in a round about way through sinus appts. Depends on the hospital whether there are any allergy specialists available. They can be part of respiratory, immunology or in my case a joint clinic with various specialists. You mention it's not severe but ?impacts on asthma, still worth mentioning it and seeing what your GP and consultant may say. In my case, consultant mentioned a treatment I had never thought would apply to me, will find out more details at the next appt.

    I haven't tried the Asthma UK nurses for this but thanks JF for the Allergy UK idea.

    Balancing work and appts can be difficult indeed.

  • Hi Philomela,

    Interesting you mention negative blood tests as I have had positive results to things I don't react too and negative to ones I def do!

    You are right that I do see a seperate allergy cons at a different hospital but this is mainly due to the fact that I developed a lot of allergies at a time when my asthma wasn't requiring secondary care. I still see them for a review but to be honest they are not really involved in my care a lot at the moment. My resp cons is also looking at possible immunology referral and I am waiting for the results of another set of blood tests. I have had negatives to things I know I react to which my cons said could be that no test is 100% accurate but I have positive results to a lot of other things.

    I would def ask about the allergy symptoms if they are contributing to asthma. Tackling my hayfever was the main thing my cons wanted to do in the Summer (however I have disproved that now it is still bad in the winter). Then again my cons seems very holistic and is now chasing up other possible causes.

  • THanks everyone! TJ - interesting to know re drops, hadn't realised they were stronger and while I wasn't happy to be put on them at first as they are harder to do I really appreciate the difference!

    Asked GP about it and she said to try sodium cromoglicate eyedrops - only issue is they can't be used with contacts and are meant to be used 4x a day which isn't practical - you can put lenses in 15 mins after though so am doing it morning and evening and will see how it goes, but also looking for some contacts-friendly drops if such things exist as I really, really do not want to have to wear glasses again. (need to win lottery so can get surgery lol)

    I had a long chat with the AUK nurse about allergies etc though it also turned into a more general asthma discussion once she found out about all the asthma stuff. Would say definitely helpful and she did think it would be reasonable to at least ask about an allergy referral though I really need to sort things out communication-wise with asthma cons first. (ughh,,,just ughjhhh), There is a big allergy centre associated with the hospital where I go so it would be the right place if I did end up getting specific allergy advice.

    sparkly, interesting re birch and false negatives! From speaking to other people it does seem like false negatives/positives are common - one of my colleagues was told she has multiple sensitivities to things she has never been bothered by but that she wasn't allergic to prawns despite having a fairly severe reaction whenever she has them!

  • I suffer badly with hayfever and all year round rhinitis and have just had a long bout of sinusitis that I couldn't clear despite trying everything. Eventually a doctor recommended neil med sinus rinse. Apparantly people who have been referred to ENT are told to use it and I have to say it certainly works. Not pleasant but has certainly done the trick so far. Cost me £8 for the bottle and 15 sachets from a chemist and £10 for a box of 50 sachets as i'm going to use on a regualr basis to keep things ticking over

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