Hay Fever

Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen. The symptoms of hay fever are caused when a person has an allergic reaction to pollen. Common hay fever symptoms are:

  • a runny, itchy and/or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • itchy eyes

Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. Pollen contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.

How to treat hay fever

Many hay fever symptoms can be controlled with over-the-counter medication at your local pharmacy.

  • Steroid nasal sprays help to prevent or reduce inflammation in the lining of the nose and some can help to relieve watery eyes.
    Available from your local pharmacy.
  • Antihistamines help to relieve a runny nose, sneezing, itching and watery eyes. Some types of antihistamines make you drowsy and are best taken before bed. Newer antihistamines are less likely to make you drowsy and are a common choice for children and people with milder or occasional symptoms of hay fever.
    Available from your local pharmacy.
  • Decongestant nasal sprays and tablets are used to unblock the nose. They should never be taken for more than a few days at a time.
    Available from your local pharmacy.
  • Eye drops can be used to treat itchy or watery eyes.
    Available from your local pharmacy.

If none of the above treatments are effective for you, please book an appointment to discuss other treatments.

Useful Links

  • NHS – Hay fever
  • NHS – Find your local Pharmacy
  • Met Office – Pollen forecast

Over the Counter

You have been given this leaflet as you have asked for a prescription for something that is either available “over the counter” (OTC) from pharmacies, supermarkets and some other shops, or which has very little evidence showing that they are safe or effective.

After a local and national public consultation we no longer prescribe OTC medicines for conditions that will clear up on their own or can be easily treated at home.  The NHS has a budget and cannot afford to prescribe these medications.

For children in full-time education and for people that receive benefits that allow them to have free prescriptions, your pharmacy can supply some medicines free of charge through the local minor ailments service (MK Pharmacy First).  Speak to a member of the pharmacy team for more information.

Your pharmacist is a great source of advice, whether you use the MK Pharmacy First scheme or buy your medicines over the counter.

The advice to direct patients to Self-Care wherever possible has the full backing of Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and applies to all GP surgeries in Milton Keynes. Other areas of the country will have similar policies too.

 The reasons for this policy are as follows:

  • You should keep a small supply of simple treatments in your medicine cabinet so you are able to manage common illnesses at home.
  • People should be able to look after themselves and their children where possible and manage self-limiting conditions with support from their local pharmacy if needed.
  • Lots of medicines are widely available from supermarkets, pharmacies and some other shops at reasonable cost.
  • Many of these treatments are more expensive when prescribed on the NHS compared to when they are bought over the counter.
  • The NHS belongs to everybody and we must ensure that funds are used in the best way for all patients.
  • There have been local and national public consultations recently to support this policy.



Tel: 01908 278684 during office hours (answerphone available)

Email: mkccg.complaints@nhs.net

By post to:

The Complaints and Patient Experience Lead
Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group
Sherwood Place
155 Sherwood Drive
Milton Keynes