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Hayfever treatments - what are my options?

For hayfever sufferers, the spring and summer can be an uncomfortable time. What exactly is hayfever and how can it be treated?

Hayfever is officially known as Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis. It is an immune reaction to pollen, where the body reacts to harmless pollen molecules as if they were harmful and so releases histamine and other substances to try to eliminate them. This leads to inflammation and hayfever symptoms.

Symptoms of hayfever include sneezing, coughing, a runny or stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes, an irritated throat, mouth, nose, eyes, or ears, headaches, fatigue, wheezing and chest tightness.

So how can hayfever be managed?


Minimising exposure can help (though we appreciate this is not always practical), for example by staying indoors and keeping windows shut, wearing sunglasses and using Vaseline around your nostrils and eyes.

Treatments from the pharmacy

Antihistamine tablets, eye drops and nasal sprays can be very effective. There are different types of antihistamines, and different strengths, so it is definitely worth trying a second type or a stronger option if the first one you try doesn't work for you. Some patients find they need to use all three - antihistamine, eye drops and nasal sprays - to keep their hayfever under control.

Treatments from a GP

If you cannot get your symptoms under control, our GPs can review your hayfever symptoms and advise on the best treatment plan for you. In exceptional cases, the doctor may be able to prescribe a hayfever steroid injection which can provide symptom relief for between 3 weeks and the entire hayfever season. Using steroid medication carries certain risks, so these must be carefully considered.

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