Preparing for Summer - Hayfever


The joys of summer have arrived - BBQs, paddling in the sea, long walks and, glorious holidays. But for the 15 million people in the UK who suffer with hay fever, the change of season can bring with it sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes.  

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen – of which there are several types. The majority of hay fever sufferers are allergic to grass pollen and tend to start experiencing symptoms from May until July or August. For those with allergies to tree pollen, their onset of symptoms will depend on which type they’re allergic to and when the tree produces pollen.                                                                      

As community based Pharmacies, we're always delighted to quash the myth that you have to “put up with hay fever”. For some people, symptoms can be mild and there’s no need for medication.  But for others, hay fever can cause discomfort, lack of concentration and irritability. We regularly help a lot of sufferers to get their symptoms under control.


The first step is usually getting to grips with the wide range of treatments that are available. Whether you are purchasing a medicine from your pharmacy or whether you have been prescribed one by your GP, you can get advice from our pharmacists about your medicines. If a person comes into our pharmacy for a hay fever treatment, we like to ask them about their symptoms and how severe they are. If they only get hay fever symptoms now and again and the symptoms are confined to the nasal area, a nasal spray can be effective. People have to be cautious however when using a decongestant nasal spray as regular use can actually have a rebound effect and lead to a blocked nose.   If a person has more symptoms, like sneezing accompanied with a runny nose, antihistamine tablets can be effective. These however may be less effective at relieving a blocked nose. For those who suffer with itchy or sore eyes, eye drops can help. 


When you are buying hay fever medicines or picking up your prescription, your pharmacist may ask if you will be driving. This is because some hay fever treatments can cause drowsiness. Newer antihistamines are non-drowsy and our pharmacist and staff can guide you to these.


If over the counter treatments don’t give you sufficient relief or your symptoms are particularly severe, your pharmacist will be able to tell you if you should see your GP.  There are also simple things you can do to help keep your hay fever at bay.  Most weather reports include information about pollen counts – if they are high, try to stay indoors as much as possible. If you do want to venture out, wear sunglasses and keep your car windows closed when driving. It can also help to shower and change your clothes after you’ve been outside.


Our top tip for hay fever sufferers is that treatments can sometimes take a long time to work so make sure you speak to one of our pharmacists well ahead of this year’s hay fever peak season. 

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