With hay fever season well and truly here, I thought it appropriate to share some advice on the illness. I, like many others it seems this year, am relatively new to the illness, and am beginning to realise that summer time is not all sunshine so to speak!
Firstly, all high performance athletes who suffer from hay fever, should check that any medication that they take complies with anti-doping regulations. While there are many over-the-counter and prescription treatments which are permitted, some are not, especially intra-muscular injections with are sometimes prescribed to treat the condition, and products containing pseudoephedrine which is prohibited in competition (e.g. Zirtex Plus Decongestant Prolonged Release Tablets). Athletes should check the status of any medication (intra-muscular, oral, nasal or otherwise) that they take on their national drug database - www.globaldro.com for medications purchased in UK, including Northern Ireland, USA and Canada and www.eirpharm.com for products purchased in the Republic of Ireland.
Any athlete who is prescribed a prohibited cortiosteriod intra-muscular injection will need to take additional measures, including obtaining documentation to show that such a treatment was necessary, over and above the permitted medications available. Athletes who are part of their national testing pool (i.e. subject to out-of-competition testing) will need to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) prior to use, and other high performance athletes will need to obtain and provide TUE permission after testing.
Further information can be obtained here (for athletes in the UK) and here (for athletes in Ireland).
As well as the potential of failing a drug test, taking hay fever medication can result in drowsiness; not ideal when you're trying to compete at the top of your game! Any steps that you can take to avoid the symptoms may be better than taking medication. Simple things like wearing wrap-around sunglasses can help prevent pollen getting the eyes, and can therefor reduce at least one of the symptoms of hay fever.
This article provides useful basic information on hay fever. Remember though you should always seek medical advice for any condition that you suffer from, and check all medications, even if they have been prescribed by a doctor.