Hay Fever & Tips to Manage Allergens

Hay Fever & Tips to Manage Allergens

April showers bring May flowers—and if you’re like the 10% to 30% of the world’s population who are prone to allergies—they also bring hay fever. While it may not be possible to completely prevent or cure hay fever, the good news is there are many things you can do to treat your symptoms, such avoiding exposure to allergens and taking over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, or prescription drugs.

In this post:

  • What is hay fever and what are the most common symptoms
  • What causes hay fever
  • Identifying Food Pollen Syndrome
  • Hay fever prevention, dos and don’ts
  • How to manage your hay fever symptoms
  • Hay fever medicine toolkit

Hay Fever

What is hay fever?

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction that occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies harmless substances—allergens such as pollen, dust, moulds, or animal dander—as a threat. This results in an inflammatory response that causes symptoms you are probably already familiar with, such as runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion.

Unlike the common cold, these symptoms can last for several weeks or even months. To be officially diagnosed with hay fever, you must have two nasal symptoms for at least 1 hour daily for a minimum of 12 weeks. That’s right, that stubborn cold you thought you had might have been an allergy!

Hay fever symptoms

Your hay fever symptoms can vary in severity and duration, but they most typically include:

Food Pollen Syndrome, cross sensitivity

If you are prone to hay fever, you should also be aware of a condition known as food pollen syndrome, or oral allergy syndrome (OAS). This is a potential cross-sensitivity to foods such as certain raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts that contain proteins that are like those found in tree and grass pollen and can trigger hay fever symptoms when you eat them.

The reverse can also occur, tree and grass pollen can trigger food allergy symptoms in people with food allergies. Cooking the fruits or vegetables can often reduce or eliminate your risk of an allergic reaction, but if you suspect you have food pollen syndrome, it is important to speak with a pharmacist.

Hay fever causes and risk factors

Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust, animal dander, and mould spores. When your immune system encounters these substances—especially if pollen counts are high (9.7-12 grams of pollen per cubic meter)—it produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies then trigger the release of chemicals, such as histamine, that cause inflammation in your nasal passages, eyes, and throat.

Certain risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing hay fever, or make your existing symptoms worse, including:

Hay fever treatment

Hay fever prevention

If you are prone to hay fever, the best thing you can do is to know your triggers and to avoid them by staying inside when pollen counts are high. It’s a good idea to keep your body and home clean. Try applying Vaseline or a barrier ointment around the edge of each nostril—it’s a great trick for helping your body block pollen and other allergens from entering your body. And, don’t forget to drink plenty of liquids.

Stay indoorsSpend too much time outdoors
Close windowsBring in flowers
Use HEPA air filtersCut the grass
Clean your home and counter tops frequentlySmoke or be around smoke
Wash your hair and clothes frequentlyHang clothes to dry outside
Put Vaseline on the edge of your nostrilsForget to take your allergy medication
Drink lots of waterIgnore your symptoms

Hay fever symptom management

Once you have hay fever, over-the-counter allergy medications should be enough to calm down your symptoms. But if your hay fever symptoms get worse or they are stopping you from working or living a normal, active life, be sure to talk to a pharmacist or healthcare professional.

Here are some common hay fever treatment options:

Non-drowsy antihistamines are generally the best option

Hay fever medicine tool kit
For most hay fever sufferers, we recommend you have the following over-the-counter (OTC) treatments or shop medicines on hand:
NeilMed Sinus Rinse - 120 Sachets

NeilMed Sinus Rinse – 120 Sachets

NeilMed Sinus Rinse Refill Sachets are meant to work as a refill for the NeilMed Sinus Rinse Bottle (not included). This product is designed to help treat nasal symptoms that are a result of allergies, colds, or the flu. It contains a saline solution which helps to flush out mucus in the nasal passages.

Benadryl 10 mg One a Day - 7 Tablets

Benadryl 10 mg One a Day – 7 Tablets

Benadryl Allergy One A Day tablets provide effective relief from hay fever and allergy symptoms, helping you stay comfortable during allergy flare-ups.

Sudafed Blocked Nose Nasal Spray - 15ml

Sudafed Blocked Nose Nasal Spray – 15ml

Sudafed Blocked Nose Nasal Spray is a convenient daily remedy for symptoms caused by allergies that affect your nose.

Beconase Hayfever Relief Nasal Spray - 100 Sprays

Beconase Hayfever Relief Nasal Spray – 100 Sprays

Beconase Hayfever Relief Nasal Spray is a fast-acting, non-drowsy nasal spray designed to provide relief from the symptoms of hayfever and other allergies.

Optrex Allergy Eye Drops 2% w/v - 10ml

Optrex Allergy Eye Drops 2% w/v – 10ml

Optrex Allergy Eye Drops provide relief for eye allergy symptoms by addressing the root cause and calming irritated eyes. These drops help alleviate redness, itchiness, and watery eyes that may occur during an allergic reaction or hay fever. The portable dropper bottle allows for easy application wherever you are, making it an ideal solution for those who do not want their allergies to hinder their daily activities. The active ingredient in Optrex Allergy Eye Drops is sodium cromoglicate

Main takeaways

  • Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to environmental allergens, such as pollen, dust, animal dander, mould spores, and pollution.
  • Hay fever can occur at any time of the year, not just in the spring.
  • The best way to avoid hay fever is to know your triggers and avoid contact with them.
  • Over-the-counter allergy medications, such as non-drowsy antihistamines, should be enough to calm down most of your hay fever symptoms


Pawankar, R., et al (2012). World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

Hellings, P., et al. (2017). EAACI position paper. Non-allergic rhinitis: Position paper of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Takizawa, H., (2011). Korean J Intern Med. Impact of Air Pollution on Allergic Diseases


PillSorted is a full service pharmacy that delivers trusted pharmacy products, over-the counter medications, and the prescriptions your doctor recommends for your allergy or hay fever treatment, directly to your door. Your PillSorted pharmacist is happy to answer your questions about hay fever diagnosis and treatments at 0333 4050380 or help@pillsorted.com.

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