Dr. Phelan By General Practitioner Published:

Hayfever can ruin summer for many adults and children – if you’re a sufferer, even someone who uses hayfever treatment, it’s hard to avoid the triggers for this allergy. However, there is plenty you can do to banish the snuffles, sneezes and itchy eyes that cause misery for millions.

Hayfever is a common allergic condition, caused by an allergy to pollen. Around one in five Brits suffers with hayfever, with symptoms varying in severity and dependent on weather conditions and the pollen count.

Symptoms include frequent sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes and a cough.

Other, less common symptoms are the loss of your sense of smell, facial pain caused by blocked sinuses, headaches and earache.

Patients who have eczema or asthma are more likely to suffer from hayfever. If these patients find their hayfever troublesome, often their chest or skin will flare up also.

Even if your symptoms are mild, they can still interfere with your work, your social life or your child’s activities at school. If you think you have hayfever, your first port of call should be a pharmacy, which usually stock a range of hayfever treatment.

In my experience as a GP, many cases can be controlled using over-the-counter medication.

Hayfever treatment

Antihistamines, such as Cetirizine, Loratidine or Chlorphenamine, are available in both tablets and liquid form and can be used either as required or on a regular basis. Frequent sufferers may find regular treatment more beneficial to keep symptoms at bay. For more severe cases, prescription strength antihistamines such as Fexofenadine may available from your GP.

Eye drops and nasal sprays are also available over the counter and can be combined with antihistamines or taken on their own. As with antihistamines, stronger prescription strength treatment is available from your GP for more troublesome symptoms.

Your lifestyle can affect how severe your hay fever symptoms are. Download a free pollen count app to your smartphone that will give you daily pollen count forecasts for your area.

Simple steps to reduce hay fever sufferers’ exposure to pollen

You should also take steps to reduce sufferers’ exposure to pollens, especially young children.

Simple measures such as keeping windows closed at night, or the car window closed whilst driving, can help. Don’t let children play in fields or large areas of grassland; give them a bath and change their clothes after they’ve been outdoors.

While common, hayfever symptoms can be distressing. Your pharmacist is able to provide comprehensive and advice on treatments such as hayfever capsules & tablets that will settle most mild to moderate symptoms.

If these haven’t helped, or you’re suffering outside of the summer months, see your GP to discuss prescription strength treatments.

• The latest information on the pollen count is available from the Met Office pollen calendar