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There's currently no cure for hay fever, but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment, at least to a certain extent.
The most effective way to control hay fever would be to avoid exposure to pollen. However, it's very difficult to avoid pollen, particularly during the summer months when you want to spend more time outdoors.
Treatment options for hay fever include antihistamines, which can help to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring and corticosteroids (steroids), which help to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Hay fever can often be controlled using over-the-counter medication from your pharmacist. However, if your symptoms are more troublesome it's worth speaking to your GP, as you may require prescription medication.
Before going to see your GP, you could visit your pharmacist and try to treat your hay fever symptoms with over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines.
If your symptoms don't improve after using antihistamines, make an appointment to see your GP. You may need treatment with prescription medications, such as nasal steroid medication (corticosteroids).
The various treatments for hay fever are outlined below. You can also read a summary of the pros and cons of hay fever treatments, allowing you to compare your treatment options.
Antihistamines treat hay fever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it thinks it's under attack from an allergen. This stops the symptoms of the allergic reaction.
Antihistamines are usually effective at treating itching, sneezing and watery eyes, but they may not help with clearing a blocked nose.
They're available in tablet form and also as nasal sprays and eye drops.
You can use antihistamines as:
- an "as-required" treatment-- you take them when you first notice you're developing the symptoms of hay fever
- a preventative treatment-- for example, if you know there's going to be a high pollen count, you can take them before leaving the house in the morning
Different antihistamine tablets for hay fever include
Azelastine is an effective antihistamine nasal spray
Opticrom is an antihistamine eye drop.
Unlike older antihistamines, Piriton, these newer types shouldn't cause drowsiness, although this can occasionally happen to some people.
You should avoid driving or using heavy tools or machinery if you do become drowsy after be using antihistamines. You should also contact your GP or pharmacist, as there may be an alternative antihistamine you can take.
Steroid Nasal Sprays
Because they have an anti-inflammatory effect, corticosteroids (steroids) are used to treat hay fever.
The inside of your nose becomes inflamed when pollen triggers your allergic reaction. Steroids can reduce the inflammation and prevent the symptoms of hay fever.
You can buy Steroid nasal sprays from your pharmacy
instead of antihistamines if:
- you have persistent hay fever that doesn't respond to antihistamines
- your main symptom is a blocked nose
Steroids are better than antihistamine tablets at preventing and relieving nasal symptoms, including sneezing and congestion. They can also relieve itchy, watery eyes. They're most effective if you start using them a couple of weeks before your symptoms begin, and work best when used regularly.
It's important that you read the instructions that come with your medication, as applying the drops or the spray incorrectly can increase your risk of developing side effects, such as:
- irritation and dryness of your nose
- bleeding from your nose
- unpleasant taste in your mouth
- itchy skin rash around your nose
Prevalin Nasal Spray
Prevalin Allergy is most effective when used before or at the first signs of an allergic reaction. It works by:
Neutralising allergens already inside the nose
Forming a micro gel barrier to prevent allergens from triggering an allergic reaction
Supports fast clearance of the allergens in the nose