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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 00:00 GMT
Nasal plugs for hayfever
Nose
Hayfever can make life miserable
Scientists have developed a new way to deal with the misery of hayfever - nasal plugs.

The plugs come with sticky filters which catch pollen grains before they can enter the nasal cavity and trigger the allergic reaction that leads to the bunged up nose and bleary eyes typical of hayfever.


We were surprised at how big the effect was

Tim O'Meara
They are designed not to get clogged up, so breathing is not impeded.

The plugs have been developed by a team from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia.

The researchers hope they will provide an easy-to-use alternative to drugs and nasal sprays, which cannot be used by some hayfever sufferers.

New Scientist magazine reports that the idea is for people who suffer from hayfever to fit the plugs when they go outside on days when the pollen count is likely to be high.

Preliminary trials of the nose plugs showed they may be more effective than current medications.

Researcher Tim O'Meara said: "We were surprised at how big the effect was.

"Similar studies with antihistamines tend to get smaller differences."

No panacea

Professor Jean Emberlin, of the UK National Pollen Research Unit, said the plugs could well be of use to some people.

However, she told BBC News Online: "They would not be a total protection against pollen.

"People have different shaped noses, and different sized nostrils, so they would not fit everybody.

"Also, if people put something in their nose they have a tendency to breathe through their mouths. If pollen gets into the mouth and throat it can cause stinging, irritation and even an asthma-like reaction."

It is hoped that the plugs may also help to relieve other allergies, including asthma.

However, they will not be commercially available for at least two years.

See also:

09 Mar 02 | Health
18 Jan 02 | Health
09 Jul 99 | Medical notes
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