Certain substances in the air cause an allergic response in the body. This response is seen as sneezing, streaming eyes, an itchy nose and congestion. These substances include grass and tree pollen, and fungal mould spores. Some people suffer all year round from allergy to house dust mites, animal dander and feathers. Allergies are most common in children and young adults; a family history of eczema and asthma is often present in those who suffer from allergies.


The pollen count (printed in the newspapers daily) peaks between May and July, so this is also the time when symptoms reach their peak. The pollen count is highest in the mornings, and on dry windy days.


Sneezing usually leads to a runny nose, then congestion. There can be headache and earache with severe congestion. The nose and the roof of the mouth are generally itchy. The eyes may be itchy and watery also. People with bad hay fever may be sensitive to light and should wear a good pair of sunglasses.


The age of the sufferer is the main factor that determines how the symptoms should be treated.




As usual, check with the pharmacist if you are taking any prescription drugs in case there may be an interaction with hay fever medication and your regular medication. If you suffer from heart disease or if you are pregnant ask the pharmacist’s advice on appropriate treatment.


There are plenty of different preparations available to treat the symptoms of hay fever. Antihistamine preparations are widely used to treat hay fever during the hay fever season. There is a wide variety of medication available and the choice of treatment is made based on age and type of symptoms. If you have already tried a preparation without success asks a trained healthcare advisor at the pharmacy for a suitable alternative. Occasionally the treatments available may not be sufficient and in such a situation you should consult your GP.


Another option is a steroid nasal spray. These products have recently been changed from prescription only to over-the-counter status and may be used in combination with antihistamines. The two steroid nasal sprays available over-the-counter are BECONASE and FLIXONASE. Although these sprays are delivered to the nasal passages, they are extremely effective at alleviating eye symptoms too. Although some people express concern about the use of steroids, because these steroids are delivered straight to the nose, tiny doses can be used and very little steroid is actually absorbed into the system.


Many antihistamine preparations (especially the older ones) cause drowsiness and are not suitable for people who need to be capable of driving or operating machinery. The newer antihistamine preparations, eye drops and nasal sprays may be used when drowsiness is not acceptable. When hay fever affects the eyes mostly there are several different eye drop preparations available which act only to treat running itchy eyes. Likewise for the nose there are different nasal sprays available for running, itchy or tingling nose. Some nasal sprays will also help with running eyes. Antihistamine tablets and liquids are used to reduce the overall response of the body to the substance which is causing the allergy. CLARITYN or ZIRTEK tablets are usually the most suitable of the antihistamine tablets which do not cause drowsiness. They also have the advantage of providing 24 hour relief from a single tablet.


A new treatment is Prevalin which is a gel spray that settles back on the nasal lining as a gel to block allergen contact.  A micro-gel neutralises the pollen in the nose and blocks them from irritating the mast cells in the nasal mucosa, thus avoiding the release of histamines. This is a first line of the allergic reaction, before the mast cells are infected and histamines are released. As the allergic reaction process is stopped in the very beginning, all symptoms will be treated (Sneezing, Runny nose, Blocked nose, Itchy / irritated eyes.) As it is non-medicated, preservative free and has no known side-effects, Prevalin is suitable for adults and children.


If the allergy is present all year round as a result of house dust mite preventative measures may be taken to reduce the presence of dust in the house. The use of special bedclothes and furniture sprays may be necessary.


It can be of benefit to some sufferers to commence treatment with antihistamines in advance of the hay fever season to reduce the allergic response when the pollen count reaches a peak. This is recommended for sufferers who are used to getting hay fever and can predict the time of year at which they suffer from the worst symptoms.