Hay fever

Hay Fever is an annoying condition characterised by

  • sneezing
  • runny/blocked nose
  • itching of throat and ears
  • sore itchy eyes.
It is caused by allergy to pollens, particularly tree and grass pollens, commonest from the months of April July.

Symptoms can occur at other times due to sensitivity to other pollens. Whilst not serious, the condition causes misery for sufferers and can interfere significantly with ordinary day-to-day functioning.

How to help yourself
Avoid the problem
  • Stay indoors or limit your time outside if the pollen count is particularly high (now broadcast with the weather forecast during the high season).
  • When driving keep the windows and airvents closed.
  • Use airconditioning if available.
  • Wear sunglasses for driving and when outside.
Drug Treatments
There are many available over the counter and your pharmacist can advise you, however they are expensive in the long term. If you regularly need medication then see the nurse who can issue you with a repeat prescription.

It is better to take the non-sedating preparations. If you notice sedation with any anti-histamine you should not drive a car.

Try to start taking them before the symptoms start and then take them regularly even if the pollen count is not very high, or your symptoms are mild. Antihistamines help with all the symptoms but are particularly good at relieving the itch in the back of the throat and in the ears. If you wake in the early hours of the morning with symptoms then take your tablet last thing at night.

Eye drops are available to help with sore itchy eyes and are available either on prescription, or over the counter from the pharmacist.

Topical Nasal Steroids
These are applied to the nostril and are very effective. They need to be taken regularly on a daily basis even if you have no symptoms. This is very important to remember; whilst they have some immediate effect, their use lies mainly in the constant application to the lining of the nostril, suppressing the allergic response. They tend to work best on the symptom of nasal blockage. If this is particularly severe your doctor might prescribe drops to use in the first instance until some of the nasal blockage has started to clear.

To insert these effectively
  • Kneel on the floor or bed and bend your head so that your nose is under your body, or lie on a bed on your back, with your head bent backwards over the edge.
  • Insert the drops into your nostrils and remain in that position for 1 minute to allow the drops to drip down the nostrils.
  • It might be worth applying decongestant drops first, then waiting for 5 minutes before you insert the steroid drops until the nasal congestion has settled.
Steroid injections.
These are no longer recommended due to a high incidence of side effects. The doctor or nurse may provide you with oral steroids to take whilst the symptoms are very severe and uncontrolled on other medications. Take the dose you have been instructed to take but for no longer than 2 weeks. Please see the doctor if there is no improvement on oral steroids.

Further information

This article published on
28 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013



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