What is hay fever?
Hay fever is the common term for a condition called allergic rhinitis. It’s an allergic reaction to pollens, which may be grass, tree or weed pollen, and it usually presents itself between March and September.
Hay fever symptoms
Runny or blocked nose
Itchy throat, nose and ears
Itchy and/or watering eyes
Hay fever often occurs in people who are also asthmatic . If this is the case, hay fever symptoms can be worse, and in turn, asthma symptoms worsen. This can cause:
Natural remedies for hay fever
Avoiding the pollens that cause the allergy is the best way to control hay fever symptoms. Understandably, this is quite difficult at times, but you can help it by:
Staying indoors when possible (especially when the pollen count is high), and keeping windows closed
Putting vaseline around your nostrils (this traps the pollen and reduces the amount you breathe)
Showering and changing clothes after going outside
Wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen
Cleaning, dusting and hoovering regularly to prevent build up of pollen inside the house
Avoiding having fresh flowers in the house
Avoiding drying your clothes outside
Hay fever treatments
If symptoms are bad, there are treatments available from a pharmacy to control hay fever symptoms. These include:
Antihistamines – Medications with the ingredient cetirizine or loratadine. These are available over the counter and generally do not cause sleepiness
Decongestant nasal spray – These can be used for acute relief of a blocked or stuffy nose, but should not be used for longer than 7 days
Steroid nasal sprays – These can reduce inflammation in the nose caused by pollen allergies
Eye drops with antihistamine – These can relieve itchy, watery eyes
If you know you’re badly affected by hay fever each year, it helps to start taking antihistamine medication just before the pollen season, before your hay fever symptoms start.
If symptoms carry on despite the above treatment, a GP can issue a stronger form of antihistamine tablet or steroid nasal spray. In very severe cases, oral steroids may be required or a referral to a specialist allergy clinic.
- Reviewed by:
- Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi