Hay fever

Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it’s warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.

Check if you have hay fever

Symptoms of hay fever include:

  • sneezing and coughing
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • loss of smell
  • pain around your temples and forehead
  • headache
  • earache
  • feeling tired

If you have asthma, you might also:

  • have a tight feeling in the chest
  • be short of breath
  • wheeze and cough

Hay fever will last for weeks or months unlike a cold which usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks.

How to treat hay fever yourself

There is currently no cure for hay fever and you can’t prevent getting it. However, you can do some simple things to ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high.


  • put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
  • shower and change your clothes after you’ve been outside to wash off pollen
  • stay indoors whenever possible
  • keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a special HEPA filter


  • cut grass or walk on grass
  • spend too much time outside
  • keep fresh flowers in the house
  • smoke or be around smoke - it makes your symptoms worse
  • dry clothes outside - they can catch pollen
  • let pets into the house if possible - they can carry pollen indoors

Allergy UK has more tips on managing hay fever.

Your pharmacist can help with hay fever

For allergy relief you can buy antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays.

They can help with:

  • itchy and watery eyes and sneezing
  • a blocked nose

Your pharmacist can advise you on which ones are best for you.

See a GP if:

  • your symptoms are getting worse
  • your symptoms don’t improve after taking medicines from the pharmacy

Treatments for hay fever from your GP

Your GP might prescribe steroids.

If steroids and other hayfever treatments don’t work your GP may refer you for immunotherapy. This means you’ll be given small amounts of pollen as an injection or tablet to slowly build up your immunity to pollen.

This kind of treatment usually starts in the winter about 3 months before the hay fever season begins.

What causes hay fever

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen typically when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes and throat. Pollen is a fine powder from plants.

Check the pollen forecast