The Independent Pharmacy

How Long Do Hayfever Tablets Take To Work?

Andy Boysan
Andy BoysanBPharmDirector & Superintendent Pharmacist

Reviewed on 17 Apr 2024

Hayfever pills like antihistamines usually start working within 30 minutes. For other types, such as corticosteroids, it may take a few hours to a day to feel relief.

We have supported many through their hay fever struggles. So, we truly understand the frustration and discomfort caused by those relentless sniffles, itchy throat, sneezes, and itchy eyes. Finding a quick medication that eases your suffering is so important.

Hay fever can make the simplest things like sitting at your desk, walking the dog, or just relaxing outside incredibly difficult. Getting fast allergy relief allows you to enjoy your daily activities comfortably.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly how soon you can expect different kinds of hay fever pills to start providing relief.

Key Takeaways:

  • Most over-the-counter antihistamine tablets start relieving hay fever symptoms within 30 minutes, with maximum benefits in 1-2 hours. But be patient - stronger medications like corticosteroids can take several hours or up to a day to fully kick in.
  • How quickly allergy pills work can vary from person to person based on factors like your overall health, dosage, and the specific medication type. Following dosing instructions is crucial for fast, effective relief.
  • For best results, start taking your hay fever medication before symptoms begin, stick to a consistent daily schedule, and consider combining pills with other treatments like nasal sprays for comprehensive control.

How Fast Different Hayfever Pills Work


Most over-the-counter antihistamines you can get without a prescription start relieving allergic symptoms within 30 minutes after taking them. Isn’t that amazing? In just half an hour, you could breathe easier and feel more comfortable.

Now, not all antihistamines are created equal. Depending on their specific ingredients and formulations, some may work a tad faster or slower. But generally, you can expect to feel their effects kick in within that 30-minute window, with maximum relief around 1-2 hours later.

When it comes to fast hay fever relief, oral antihistamines like Zirtek (Cetirizine) or Clarityn (Loratadine) are usually our go-to medication. These pills work by blocking the effects of histamine, the chemical your body releases during an allergic reaction. That’s what causes all those annoying sneezes, itchy eyes, and runny noses.

Loratadine 10mg Tablets
Loratadine 10mg Tablets
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For those with more severe hay fever, your doctor might prescribe corticosteroids. These powerful meds directly reduce inflammation and swelling caused by allergic reactions, providing powerful relief by targeting the root cause.

However, steroid nasal sprays take longer to get going because they work differently than antihistamines. You might need to wait a few hours, or even up to a day or two, before really feeling their full effects. That’s because they don’t just instantly block histamine (a substance in your body that causes allergy symptoms) - they’re actually suppressing that whole allergic response process.

So, which steroid nasal sprays could you get with The Independent Pharmacy? Some of the products we might recommend based on your symptoms and condition are Beconase and Benacort Nasal Spray.

The key is being patient and sticking with the medication as directed by your doctor. Those delayed effects will be well worth it once the relief kicks in!

Allergy Pills for Asthma-like Symptoms

Some people might experience asthma-like symptoms during hay fever season, like wheezing or shortness of breath. In those cases, your doctor may recommend a different type of allergy pill that can help open up those airways.

These medications usually start providing some relief within a few hours after taking them. But similar to corticosteroids, you’ll likely need to wait a full day or two to really feel their maximum benefits of easy breathing.

The important thing is identifying which type of medication matches your specific hay fever symptoms. Don’t just go at it alone - let’s work together to find the perfect allergy treatment plan for you.

What Affects How Fast Pills Work

Everyone’s Different

While we’ve given you some general timelines for how quickly hay fever medications start working, it’s important to remember that we’re all unique individuals. How fast you experience relief can depend on your specific body and overall health.

For example, if your hay fever symptoms are particularly severe this allergy season, with constant sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion, it may take a bit longer for the medicine to get those under control. But don’t get discouraged! Stick with the treatment, and relief will come.

On the other hand, if you’re basically a healthy adult without any other medical conditions, you may find the medication kicks in towards the faster end of those timeframes we mentioned earlier. Our bodies all process things a bit differently.

Dosage and Medicine Type

Another factor impacting how quickly hay fever pills start working is making sure you take them properly. It’s crucial to follow the dosage instructions on the label - taking too little could delay or reduce their effectiveness.

The form the medicine comes in can also make a difference. So, something like a quick-dissolving antihistamine tablet may bring relief sooner than a capsule you have to digest.

Our advice? Be an educated patient! Read those medication guides carefully, and don’t hesitate to ask us if you have any questions about proper dosing or administration.

Tips for Best Results

Best Time to Take Them

Here’s an insider tip for getting the fastest, most effective relief from hayfever:

Start taking your medication before symptoms of allergy even begin! Getting ahead of those allergies can make a huge difference.

If you know your hay fever always flares up during specific times of the year, like spring or late summer, we recommend starting your antihistamines or other allergy pills a few weeks beforehand. That way, the medicine has time to get into your system and start providing protection. And if you're wondering if you can get hay fever on holiday, read our guide with tips on how to plan, pack, and relieve your symptoms.

It’s also ideal to take your hay fever medication around the same time each day. Our bodies just function better on a consistent schedule. So whether you opt for mornings, nights, or whenever - just pick a routine dosing time and stick to it.

Using More Than One Treatment

While hay fever pills are incredibly effective, sometimes we need to attack those allergies from multiple angles for complete relief. We often recommend using other treatments alongside medication for comprehensive symptom control.

Steroid nasal sprays, for instance, can be a great add-on, especially if you suffer from persistent stuffiness or sinus pressure. Or eye drops like Opticrom can provide incredible relief for itchy, watery eyes that just won’t quit. Using remedies together in a customised treatment plan can be extremely helpful.

Now, if you’ve given your hay fever regimen some time and you’re still not seeing enough improvement, don’t suffer in silence! Get in touch with our team, and we can reevaluate whether a different medication or adjusted dosage might work better for you.

Take the Next Step With The Independent Pharmacy

Now that you understand how quickly different hay fever medications work and what factors can impact their effectiveness, you’re already one step ahead of the game. Knowledge is power when it comes to surviving hay fever!

But of course, finding just the right treatment plan tailored specifically to your symptoms and needs is the key to long-lasting relief and better quality of life. That’s where the team at The Independent Pharmacy comes in.

Why not start your personalised hay fever journey today by completing our quick online self-assessment? It’s free, easy, and can be done from the comfort of your own home. Just answer a few simple questions about your typical allergy symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle.

Once you submit your assessment, one of our specialists will carefully review your responses. Within a few days, we’ll reach out with a customised list of hay fever treatment recommendations chosen just for you. From the latest antihistamine tablets to prescription nasal sprays or other options, you’ll have a head start on finding relief.

If you still have any other questions after reviewing our suggestions, you can easily connect with one of our pharmacists for advice and read through our guides for hay fever. We’re always here to listen, provide guidance, and help you feel confident in your treatment choices.

Don’t let another beautiful spring or summer months pass you by while suffering from hay fever. Take control of your allergies today by tapping into the personalised expertise at The Independent Pharmacy. A clearer, more comfortable pollen season is just a few clicks away!


Do hayfever tablets work straight away?

Most over-the-counter antihistamine tablets will start to provide relief within 30 minutes after taking them, though maximum benefits may not be felt until 1-2 hours later. Other hay fever medications like corticosteroids can take several hours or up to a day or two to take full effect.

Is it okay to take 2 hayfever tablets a day?

Always follow dosage instructions carefully. Many antihistamines recommend taking only one pill per day. However, some may allow taking two smaller doses 12 hours apart for extended relief. Check your specific medication and consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist about proper and safe dosing.

When is the best time to take hay fever tablets?

For most hay fever medications, taking them around the same time each day is ideal for maintaining consistent levels in your system. Many hay fever sufferers opt to take their pills in the morning, but the evening can work well, too. The key is sticking to your routine daily dosing schedule.

What should you not mix with antihistamines?

In general, you’ll want to avoid other sedating medications when taking antihistamines, as they can compound drowsiness. It’s also best to steer clear of alcohol. Be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any other medications, vitamins or supplements you take to check for potential interactions.

Are hayfever sprays better than tablets?

Both nasal sprays and oral tablets can be highly effective at treating hay fever. Often, using them together as part of a comprehensive treatment plan works very well for getting your symptoms under control. The “best” option really depends on your specific needs, preferences and the severity of your allergies.


NHS (2023). Antihistamines -

Raj H. Patel; Shamim S. Mohiuddin. (2023). Biochemistry, Histamine -

Asthma + Lung UK (2023). Pollen, hay fever and lung conditions -

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