Hayfever is a very common condition affecting up to 25% of people. Whilst it is not a life threatening condition, it can be very unpleasant for the person who is suffering with it.
Causes of Hayfever
There are several causes of hayfever but it is mainly caused by pollen. This can be from grass, trees or weeds. Some trees release their pollen in early spring, so some people may start developing hayfever symptoms well before the typical grass pollen season.
Some people may be more at risk of developing hayfever because:
- they already have allergic conditions such as eczema and asthma
- there is a family history of hayfever.
How to treat hayfever
Prevention can be more effective than treating symptoms once they occur. The trick lies in trying to identify what causes the hayfever symptoms (whether it is tree or grass pollen) to try and predict when symptoms might start. This can have a big effect on how effective treatments are.
During peak pollen season, there can be very high levels of pollen within the atmosphere, so reducing your exposure to this is important.
Some more tips to help control your hayfever symptoms
- Try to keep your home as ‘pollen free’ as possible – keep windows and doors closed especially in the evening when pollen falls to lower levels in the atmosphere.
- Clothing and bedding which has been dried on a washing line may attract pollen. If your symptoms are severe you may wish to use a tumble dryer to dry laundry.
- If you have been out and return home, change your clothes and wash your hair to remove any pollen which may have been picked up whilst you were out.
- When driving keep the windows closed and ensure the pollen filter on the car has been renewed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Wearing glasses can reduce the amount of pollen exposure to your eyes.
- Spending time outdoors by the sea may be better than inland where the breeze contains more pollen.
- Your pets may also carry pollen into the home.
For some people these tips may not be enough to control or relieve their symptoms, and they may need to resort to using medication. Again, this is best taken as a preventative measure rather than when symptoms are at their worst.
The treatment for hayfever is widely available from Pharmacies, with patients being able to get all the treatment they need. This should be your first port of call should you start developing hayfever symptoms
There are several different treatments for hayfever, all available from a Pharmacy.
- Tablets – these are known as anti-histamines. Anti histamines can make you drowsy however there are ones which do not have this effect. Your Pharmacist will be able to advise on the most suitable ones for you, but remember to take any medications you are already prescribed with you for them to see.
- Nasal sprays – these are more effective if you have mainly nasal symptoms and are either steroid or anti histamine based. If you choose to use the steroid sprays, these can take several weeks to reach their full effect so should start to be used several weeks before symptoms tart and continue until pollen levels are low.
- Eye drops – these are also available for your Pharmacist, and they will be able to advise on the most suitable drops for you.
If all of these treatments have been ineffective, only then should patients contact their GP. Routinely steroids are not offered to treat hayfever due to concerns about osteoporosis however there may be exceptional circumstances where this treatment is required.
Further information is available at NHS Choices
Comment from GP / Clinical Practitioner
- Treatments for hayfever are all available from your local pharmacy and this should be your first port of call for advice.
- Preventing symptoms is most important when treating hayfever – remember to start medication early.
- Use antihistamine tablets, eye drops or nasal spray to treat your symptoms, on advice from your Pharmacist.