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Hay Fever

Consultation & treatments

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is a common allergic condition. It's thought that more than 10 million people in the UK suffer from hay fever. The main symptoms of hay fever are: Frequent sneezing, a blocked or runny nose, itchy red eyes, or an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears.

A hay fever sufferer may occasionally experience sweating and headaches. If you suffer from asthma, this can be made worse by hay fever and care must be taken to ensure it does not become more serious.


What are the symptoms of hay fever?

The main symptoms of hay fever are:

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Itchy, red eyes
  • Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears

A hay fever sufferer may occasionally experience sweating and headaches. If you suffer from asthma, this can be made worse by hay fever and care must be taken to ensure it does not become more serious.

What are the causes of hay fever?

Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen. Most commonly, it's an allergy to grass pollen that is released from the end of spring to the beginning of summer. For some people, the allergy can be related to tree pollen, which is released earlier in the year at the start of spring. Occasionally, the allergy can be related to pollen released by weeds and mould, and this can cause hay fever in sufferers that lasts from early spring all the way through summer and into the autumn.

Hay fever starts when the pollen count reaches a level that triggers a response from the sufferer’s immune system. The symptoms will vary throughout the season as the pollen count increases and falls depending on the weather. Warm sunny days produce high pollen counts, while cold damp days produce a low pollen count (although rain can beat up the pollen temporarily if it follows a warm dry spell).

How can I treat hay fever?

Hay fever cannot be cured. However, there are a number of ways to reduce its symptoms.

If the symptoms are mild and not too persistent, then medicines available without a prescription can be a real help. Antihistamine tablets can provide real relief when the pollen count is high and can be taken when required. Non-sedating antihistamine tablets containing acrivastine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zirtek) and loratadine (Clarityn) are recommended for use during the day as they will not make you feel sleepy and can affect your ability to work and drive.

If the most troublesome symptoms are sneezing and a blocked or runny nose, a nasal spray may be helpful either in addition to antihistamine tablets or on its own.

Steroid-based nasal sprays such as Beconase Hayfever Spray, Pirinase Hayfever Nasal Spray or Nasacort Allergy Nasal Spray are best used before your hay ever symptoms get too bad, and should be used every day to build up effectiveness over time. If the main problem is with itchy eyes, eye drops can be bought to reduce the occurrence of this symptom.

What do I do if my symptoms get worse?

If symptoms become more troublesome than just mild, prescription-strength treatments are available through the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service, subject to a successful online consultation. Please follow the links for further details of each medicine.

The following prescription-strength antihistamine tablets are available

Telfast Telfast Fexofenadine hydrochloride
Xyzal Xyzal Levocetirizine dihydrochloride

Prescription-strength treatments are available in nasal spray format:

Avamys Avamys Fluticasone furoate
Dymista Dymista Fluticasone propionate, Azelastine hydrochloride
Flixonase Flixonase Fluticasone propionate
Nasonex Nasonex Mometasone furoate
Rhinocort Rhinocort Budesonide
Rhinolast Rhinolast Azelastine hydrochloride

Eye drops available include:

Opticrom Opticrom Sodium cromoglicate
Optilast Optilast Azelastine hydrochloride
Rapitil Rapitil Nedocromil sodium