If you’re struggling with hay fever symptoms, it’s worth speaking to your pharmacist. They’ll be able to offer advice and suggest the best treatments. This can include antihistamine drops, tablets, or nasal sprays that can help with itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and a blocked nose.
The NHS generally advises against taking a sedating antihistamine which can cause you to feel sleep and affect driving, working, and academic performance. However, if hay fever is interfering with your sleep, then taking a sedative antihistamine may be preferable.
When taking treatment such as antihistamines, many people find they’re more effective when taken prior to symptoms starting. In fact, if you have hayfever and you know there’s going to be a high pollen count, the NHS advises taking them in the morning before leaving the house.
You can search for a pharmacy near you by entering your town, city, or postcode on the NHS website.
Some people also swear by a teaspoon of local honey to help relieve symptoms – though, there is yet no scientific evidence to support this. If you’d like to give this method a go, it’s important to buy local honey as this will be raw and unprocessed.
Alternatively, if your symptoms get significantly worse or aren’t improving after taking medicines from the pharmacy, it’s worth speaking to your GP.
If necessary, they might prescribe you steroid treatment – for example, a steroid nasal spray. It’s best to start these treatments before the hay fever season starts, or at least a couple of weeks before you usually start experiencing symptoms. For optimal benefits, it’s also important to make sure you take the treatment every day without fail.
In cases where steroids and other hay fever treatments aren’t successful, your GP may refer you for immunotherapy which involves being given small amounts of pollen as an injection or tablet in order to slowly improve your immunity to pollen.
This treatment tends to start in the winter, around three months before hay fever season begins. However, immunotherapy is a specialist service and may not be available everywhere.