While the arrival of summer is a blessing, the joy can be dampened for those of us battling allergies.
Constant sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose, scratchy throat and severe congestion headaches are a few of the frustrating symptoms those who experience hay fever can suffer from.
Also called allergic rhinitis, the condition can worsen with the arrival of spring due to the increased pollen in the air. This can trigger allergic reactions in individuals sensitive to the pollen particles.
While taking antihistamine medication is the most common route to minimise the effects of hay fever, there’s a new option gaining attention that claims to give longer-lasting help.
What is Haytox?
Botox is a commonly-known brand owned by Allergan that refers to the use of an injectable botulinum toxin treatment to temporarily minimise wrinkles. There are a number of other brands that make botulinum toxin treatments but the common denominator is that they are most often used to relax muscle movement in order to smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Lesser known is the fact the injectable treatments are sometimes used to treat other issues like migraines, excessive sweating, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, muscle spasms and bladder problems.
Now, a new treatment is emerging called ‘Haytox’ that refers to the use of needle-free nasal botulinum toxin treatment to prevent the onset of typical hay fever symptoms. Haytox is not a brand name, but a colloquial play on the widely-recognised Botox name.
In advertised treatments, often from cosmetic clinic providers, Haytox refers to a topical spray application of an anti-wrinkle product containing botulinum toxin. It is applied via the nasal passage directly into the lining of the nostrils and is said to be pain-free.
One application is claimed to temporarily block the nerve signals responsible for triggering allergy and hay fever symptoms. Some providers say the treatment promises to reduce symptoms by between 50% up to 100% and lasts anywhere from 3-6 months.
What are the risks?
While some research has been carried out around the use of botulinum toxin for rhinitis, it’s not clear there are long-term studies clearly showing the benefits or risks of this treatment, or if it really works at all. There also appears to be no clear understanding of related side effects or direction on who should or shouldn’t receive this treatment.
In a recent advisory, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia warned against the advertisement of Haytox, saying it has not been evaluated not approved by the TGA or included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
The advisory makes clear Botox and similar products have only been approved for specific uses, of which hay fever is not one.
Medsafe in New Zealand current does not offer any information on the topic.
So while there is currently no clear guidance on the product that is already being offered, for those that need to consistently rely on medication to manage hay fever symptoms, it is hoped subsequent clear evaluation and medical guidance on the treatment will show promise as a reliable solution.
If you are suffering from persistent allergies, your doctor should always be your first port of call for advice.