Articles

Seeing the light for the pollen trees

In Evidence-Based Medicine, Health industry on June 2, 2009 by Hanna Tagged:

Just saw Lloyd’s Pharmacy advert for the hayfever device so I’m like eh what is it? I have hayfever and would like to know about anything I can add to my regimen of generic antihistamines, nasal spray and eye drops although I am going to be more sceptical than most especially as it now involves a therapy, something I associate with something a sticking plaster, a comforter as opposed to a treatment…but anyway it’s two pronged battery operated device which uses light therapy and you insert into your nose a few times a day to give general relief to nasocongestive symptoms.

So how does it work? Off to the blogs and first the usual people saying well it works for me so why do I need evidence (oh dear) but then more interestingly the argument that the trial supporting the sale of these devices (Lloyds is not alone in marketing them) employs a sham sham comparison (it is based on red light therapy and the sham light was internally disconnected thus making the one with the light a rudolf the reindeer giveaway). Go to pubmed and the newest study I found with a very simple search was a phase II study that did find benefit but with caveats that mechanism of action was unclear, that compliance was not followed and reading the abstract alone it is clear that the outcomes are fuzzy: severity rating scales and other subjective measures. I am not totally confident that I could rate my symptoms and that the advice that seems to counter reality works best: staying away from pollen really is the best way to avoid symptoms. If you want something to make yourself feel better, and much of the effect of this deivce seems to be part of the powerful placebo effect especially favoured by erm acupuncturists ahem for example, then buy some massive wrap around sunglasses. Less pollen will get into your eyes and at least if your eyes are red and sore then no one need know!

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3 Responses to “Seeing the light for the pollen trees”

  1. Very interesting post. Particularly like your first sentence. Very evocative. Rather in the style of James Joyce, in a way, or perhaps Viz. Anyway, important point about sham shams, and the need to read the actual paper, rather than just the first two sentences and the last two. I take it you didn’t make a purchase of said product then?

  2. Have they done research into just keeping a couple of pencils shoved up your nose to prevent pollen ingress?

  3. Reminds me of attention seeking classmate who did this very thing, it causes nosebleeds. Which might take your mind off hayfever…no I have not bought one!

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