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Hay Fever Tablets & Remedies

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*Prescription medicines are supplied subject to a medical consultation at the discretion of a doctor.

  • When is pollen season?

    There are three types of pollen that commonly cause hay fever; grass pollen, tree pollen and weed pollen. The majority of people with hay fever (90%) suffer with an allergy to grass pollen whereas only 25% suffer an allergy to tree pollen and an even smaller minority to weed pollen.

    Depending on which pollen you are allergic to, the pollen season, and subsequently when you experience the most severe symptoms, will change. From late March to mid-May the majority of pollen is tree pollen, followed by grass pollen from mid-May through to July. Weed pollen normally occurs the latest in the year from the end of June to September. If you know which pollens you are most allergic to, you can plan your treatment to suit your needs throughout the pollen season.

    The dates provided for pollen season are a rough guide, they can change from year to year depending on the weather and other factors.

  • How do I know what treatment is right for me?

    For most people it is sensible to start with a once daily antihistamine such as cetirizine or loratadine, taken each morning during pollen season, even if pollen counts are low. You can then adapt your treatment depending on your response, if a once-daily antihistamine is not enough to keep symptoms under control then a different antihistamine can be tried or a nasal spray or eye drops can be added.

  • Do you get Hay Fever on holiday?

    You can still experience hay fever on holiday and hay fever sufferers should take preventative medication with them to ensure they can keep their symptoms at bay abroad. It is worth noting that as the trees, plants and grasses can vary abroad, depending on how far you have travelled, the symptoms you experience can be different (more or less severe) to those at home. It is worth taking treatment with you so you are prepared.

  • Does the weather affect the pollen count?

    Yes, the daily pollen count can fluctuate greatly depending on the weather. In general, rainy days will clear pollen from the air and mean symptoms will be decreased. Both wind and humidity can cause pollen to spread more easily meaning that symptoms will be worse, as they will be on sunny days where more flowers open. Pollen counts tend to be lowest in the early morning and rise throughout the day to a peak at early evening.

  • Can I use a nasal spray, eye drops and tablets to treat Hay Fever together?

    Yes, as long as each item is individually appropriate for you to take, there is no problem combining an antihistamine tablet, steroid nasal spray and allergy eye drops to keep hay fever symptoms under control.

  • How do I take my Antihistamine tablets?

    Antihistamine tablets start to work within 30 minutes and are normally taken once daily in the morning, swallowed whole with a glass of water. You can take them with or without food.

  • When should I start to take Antihistamine tablets?

    Unlike steroid nasal sprays, which are best started days before exposure to pollen, antihistamine tablets work quickly and can be taken when you need them. For best protection against pollen, you should take them throughout pollen season to prevent hay fever from occurring. 

  • What's the best time of day to take Antihistamine tablets?

    Antihistamine tablets can be taken at anytime of the day, although they are generally best taken first thing in the morning to help prevent symptoms throughout the day.

  • Will Antihistamines make me drowsy?

    All antihistamines have a chance of producing drowsiness, though this can vary from person to person. All of the once-daily antihistamines, frequently called non-sedative antihistamines, and have a lot lower incidence of drowsiness compared to the older types of antihistamine (such as chlorphenamine).

  • Are all Antihistamine tablets the same?

    Although most once daily antihistamines work in a similar way, individual responses to them can vary greatly. One antihistamine may work better for you than another. For this reason it may be beneficial to try a new antihistamine if you find one ineffective.

  • If you use Antihistamine tablets continously will you become addicted to them?

    Newer once-daily antihistamine tablets are not addictive and they are safe to use for long periods of time. Older antihistamines that are used for nausea and insomnia can produce some dependency (this is not the same as addiction) when used for long periods. If you are concerned, please contact one of our healthcare professionals for advice.

  • Will the effect of Hay Fever treatments diminish over time if you use them every day?

    As long as all of the hay fever treatments are used as advised, and they are only used during hay fever season, their effects will not diminish over time with continued use. 

  • What happens if I forget to take a dose?

    Take the forgotten dose as soon as you remember. If that is not until the next dose is due, do not take a double dose.

  • I have had tablets before but it wasn't quite enough to control all my symptoms. What should I do?

    Most hay fever treatment starts with a once-daily antihistamine tablet unless symptoms are confined to either just the nose (nasal spray) or the eyes (eye drops).

    If an antihistamine tablet is not enough to control your symptoms, you can should next add a nasal spray to your treatment regime (unless your eyes are particularly badly affected). A combination of a nasal spray and antihistamine tablet is normally very effective in controlling hay fever.

    If further treatment is required, eye drops can also be added to this regime.

    In the event that using an antihistamine tablet, nasal spray and eye drops do not control your hay fever, you may wish to switch treatments to test for more effective alternatives. 

    Always remember that you should use the preventative techniques to reduce the severity of symptoms alongside medicinal treatments.

  • How do I use a nasal spray properly?

    • Blow your nose to ensure your nostrils are clear of mucus.
    • Remove the cap. Shake the bottle. The first time you use it, pump the spray to ensure it is working and a fine mist of medication comes out of the end. This is also sometimes referred as "priming" and needs to be done when you use for the first time and after long periods when it has not be used.
    • Breathe out and tilt your head forward.
    • Place your thumb on the bottom of the bottle and 2 fingers on the top. Use the fingers from your other hand to close your other nostril.
    • Breathe in slowly and administer a dose of the nasal spray. Avoid breathing in too quickly as this may cause the spray to pass through the nasal cavity and be swallowed. 
    • Repeat steps 2-4 above for the other nostril.

    Avoid blowing your nose or breathing in deeply for a short period of time after administration. This will ensure the medicine is absorbed correctly and has time to work properly. 

  • When should I start to use my Hay Fever nasal spray?

    Steroid nasal sprays need to be started a few days before they are needed to allow them to build up to their full effect. They need to be used continuously throughout the hay fever season for maximum effect. Examples of steroid nasal sprays are Avamys, Beconase, Nasonex, Rhinocort and Flixonase.

    Dymista is a combination hay fever treatment containing a steroid and an antihistamine. The steroid effect may take a few days to build up, however the antihistamine should take effect quickly allowing it to be started when symptoms occur. It should still be taken regulalry throughout hay fever season, not just when required.

  • Do steroid nasal sprays have bad side effects like steroid tablets?

    Unlike steroid tablets, the nasal sprays used for hay fever deliver the drug to exactly where it is needed. This means that smaller amounts are used and only a tiny amount is absorbed in to the body.

    The side effects of steroid nasal sprays are minimal in comparison and are usually limited to dry skin inside the nostril(s), redness at site of application and in some patients, taste disturbances.

Authored By:

A photo of  Leanne Sinclair

Leanne Sinclair


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Leanne is a clinical pharmacist with years of experience working in pharmacy.

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Chris Newbury

Chris Newbury

BPharm IP

Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Chris is a vastly experienced clinical pharmacist and has been registered as an Independent Prescriber since 2014.

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