How to manage your 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 sprayshelp to prevent or reduce inflammation in the lining of the nose and some can help to relieve watery eyes.
    Available from your local pharmacy.
  • Antihistamineshelp 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 tabletsare 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 dropscan 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 a routine telephone appointment to discuss other treatments.

How can I treat my hay fever?

 You have been given this leaflet because you have asked for hay fever treatment that you can get “over the counter” (OTC) from pharmacies, supermarkets and some other shops.

After a local and national public consultation on OTC medicines, we do not prescribe simple hay fever treatment anymore. Hay fever is a common allergy and most people with mild to moderate symptoms are able to treat themselves with OTC medicines.

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

Below are some tips to help reduce your symptoms.

Keep house and car windows closed, especially when the pollen count is high (early morning between 7am to 9am and evenings between 5pm and 7pm).

  • Avoid large grassy areas, woodland, cutting the grass, pollutants and car fumes.
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses.
  • When you get in from outside wash your hands, face, hair, rinse your eyes and change your clothes.
  • If possible stay indoors when the pollen count is high.
  • Use petroleum jelly inside your nose to trap any pollen.
  • Keep your house clean and wear a mask and glasses when doing house work.
  • Don’t dry washing outside to avoid pollen sticking to your clothes.
  • You could buy a pollen filter for the air vents in the car.

  When should I speak/see a GP?

If you are experiencing wheezing, breathlessness or tightness in the chest.

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If your symptoms are not relieved by over the counter treatments in combination with measures to reduce your exposure to pollen.

  More information is available at: