Achoo! Did you know that approximately 80 per cent of people who get asthma also get hay fever (allergic rhinitis) symptoms – we help to make up the one in five of people living in Australia experience seasonal allergies.
Beyond using lots of tissues, it can also burn a hole in your wallet, especially if your whole family has asthma. Knowing these stats, it’s no surprise that many of us rely on antihistamine tablets during spring.
These tablets might be an easy option, but did you know there are cheaper, and potentially more effective options out there? The same applies to asthma preventer medications and the price range is vast between brand names and generics. Many people do not realise that generic asthma preventers are available and the potential savings to be gained.
Spray that hay fever away!
If you have asthma, and your hay fever is constantly giving you trouble, the best treatment is often a nasal spray – and more specifically, a corticosteroid nasal spray1. Not only are they a great option for your hay fever, but they may also save you money. Nasal sprays work to reduce the swelling in the lining of your nose and reduce all symptoms of hay fever. But they need to be taken daily to work properly.
It’s recommended to start using them six weeks before the pollen season, extending all the way through spring and into summer. Some people may need to use them for even longer, or even all year round, and this is safe to do. Before you consider your treatment options, always seek advice from a medical professional such as a doctor or pharmacist.
Using these medications in the appropriate way will help you get the maximum benefit from your treatment.
Incorrect technique can lead to you damaging the lining of your nose and getting a bloody nose. It also means the nasal spray won’t work and will taste awful if it is ending up in your throat rather than your nose – and no one wants that.
Antihistamine tablets have a place in treating allergies, especially if you only experience symptoms occasionally. It’s important you speak to your doctor or pharmacist about which option is best for you.
Show me the SAVINGS!
We looked at some of the most popular over the counter nasal sprays and anti histamine tablets, from three major pharmacies and found big price differences. You could pay up to 62 cents a day for antihistamine tablets, versus only 18 cents a day for the cheapest generic corticosteroid nasal spray!
It doesn’t sound like much, but for someone who needs hay fever medicine for four months a year, you might be paying more than $70, when other cost-effective options as low as $20 may be appropriate for you. Or if you have persistent hay fever and need treatment year-round, it could add up to a difference of $160 over 12 months! And that’s just for your hay fever.
These differences were even bigger when we checked at a small rural pharmacy where you might be paying over $1 a day for brand name antihistamines.
Your doctor may prescribe a different nasal spray or hay fever medication that is more expensive to the ones we price checked. There may be a reason your doctor has prescribed that medication, like it being stronger, or the device being easy to use.
If you are concerned about the cost of your nasal spray, let your doctor know. They might be able to recommend a more cost-effective option suitable for you.
The cost of asthma medications is an ongoing expense, potentially for your entire lifespan – so it’s important to find one that works for you. Plus, it can be much cheaper and healthier in the long run to find a preventer that works for you, rather than going without and ending up needing emergency treatment.
In general, combination preventers tend to be more expensive and the single therapy preventers tend to be cheaper. Whilst some people need the extra benefit of the combination preventer, many can achieve good health with the single therapy inhalers.
If your doctor doesn’t think the cheapest option will work for you, you might still be able to save some money by accepting a generic brand.
Our Active Ingredient Guide list shows what asthma medicines have generic versions available. You might be surprised to find out you have options, as many of these generics have only become available in the last couple of years. To find out more on Active Ingredient Prescribing click here.
It’s important to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. For example, if you don’t use your preventer every day, you won’t get the full benefit – and you’ll probably need more of your reliever as a result.
You need to use most preventers twice daily. If this doesn’t work for you and your schedule, there are some once-daily options available! Talk to your doctor if you would like to investigate these options.
Another important factor is finding the right style of preventer for you. If you can’t use it well, or don’t realise you are using it wrong, less ends up in your lungs, and it won’t work as well as it should. Apart from your asthma and quality of life not getting better, this is a big waste of money!
If you have any questions or need support with your asthma and hay fever, our Asthma Educators are here to help. Give them a call today on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462) or book a call here.
For more information on asthma and spring visit asthma.org.au/spring-asthma.
1. This information has been sourced from The Australian Asthma Handbook’s guidelines on ‘Managing allergic rhinitis in people with asthma’: https://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/clinical-issues/allergies/allergic-rhinitis