Botox for hayfever control – and ... no needles!

Springtime is here which means for some of us, the start of our hayfever season…recent patient treatments in these last few weeks have prompted me to write this post. I am really excited from the great successes in treating hayfever sufferers with my favourite medication, Botox! And it “may be our most efficient weapon ever” to control hayfever!

As you are aware, Botox is commonly used for improving wrinkles from overactive facial muscles. It works by effectively blocking neural transmission at nerve endings on the muscle. Australian medical researchers have previously proven that it can also block neural transmission at the specialised nerve endings in the nasal cavity. These nerve endings or receptors react to stimulation by environmental allergens, and provoke an attack of hayfever symptoms. Therefore, by applying Botox in the nasal cavity, you can avoid the troublesome symptoms of hayfever – itchy, runny or blocked nose, sneezing; itchy or bleary, red, gritty and irritated, watery or streaming eyes.

As a medical doctor, I understand how debilitating these symptoms can be, and their negative impact on a person’s quality of life and their work or role functioning. I also understand that these symptoms are also often underestimated or dismissed by others, and doctors often just encourage sufferers to get on with it and self medicate with commonly used treatments from the pharmacy.

Hayfever symptoms can make you feel miserable :(

Hayfever symptoms can make you feel miserable :(

Controlling these symptoms with Botox avoids the use of typical hayfever treatments like nasal sprays – including antihistamines, or decongestants, or nasal steroid sprays, as well as daily antihistamine tablets, or even complex courses of desensitisation injections prescribed by an Allergist, that may include up to weekly injections for 10 months each year, for 1 to 3 years. Botox blockade of the nasal nerve endings basically just bypasses the immune system from ever becoming stimulated by the environmental allergens that you are reacting to.

Botox treatment for wrinkles is by injection, however the mucosa lining of the nasal cavity is so thin, it’s nerve receptors can absorb the Botox directly by topical application. This means that you can have the treatment without any pain from needles. The treatment does not ‘cure’ hayfever but controls it and prevents the symptoms by bypassing the body's immune system from having to respond to the allergic stimulus. 

There are no side effects! I recommend the Botox treatment for people who would like to avoid any side-effect issues and inconvenience associated from taking regular oral medication or nasal sprays, or having to persist with the ongoing requirements of desensitisation injections. 

Key points – Botox for hayfever:

  1. No side-effects. There are absolutely no side effects. After applying Botox inside the nose, the mucous membrane of the throat will not be affected even if the Botox runs into the throat. The treatment does cause an effect like a hayfever attack that lasts for up to 10 minutes.
  2.  No pain. You might feel a bit uncomfortable when the applicator is being inserted into your nose. There is no pain and no odour.
  3. Quick treatment. Treatment takes about 5 minutes (You will be kept under observation to rest for about 10 minutes after the treatment).
  4. Inexpensive and cost-effective. One or two Botox treatments are very inexpensive compared to the ongoing costs of buying over the counter sprays and hayfever relief tablets, prescription sprays and tablets, or the high expense and inconvenience of seeing a Consultant Allergist, buying their bottles of immune serums, and then having to arrange weekly or fortnightly injections with your family GP.
  5. Long-lasting response. All patients get a benefit. Some may need a second treatment after 4-6 weeks if their initial response is incomplete. Hayfever symptom control can last from several months up to two years depending on the individual. It is recommended to have the treatment repeated annually during the hay fever season. Importantly, Botox treatment does not interfere with other treatments if they are needed (You can have the Botox treatment in combination with any other hay fever treatments).

Procedure – Botox for hayfever:

  1. Medical Consultation and hayfever assessment.
  2. Do not take any hayfever medication for 24 hours before any treatment and cease Steroid nasal sprays for 2 weeks prior.
  3. Instillation of Botox into the nasal cavity by using sterile applicators.
  4. You will be kept lying down for about 10 minutes till Botox penetrates the nasal cavity.
  5. The treatment will provoke symptoms of a hayfever attack that will last 10-15 minutes.
  6. You may feel the beneficial effects starting within a few hours after the treatment (but sometimes beginning straight after the treatment).

Further reading from news reports – Botox for hayfever:

  1. Could Botox be the cure for allergies? (Medical Daily 9/10/12)
  2. Monash Medical Centre - Hayfever Botox Trial (ABC News)
  3. Botox blocks hayfever symptoms (Nine MSN News 10/10/12) 
  4. Botox gel trialled to ease signs of hayfever (SMH News 10/10/12)