Self care for hayfever

Did you know you do not need to see the doctor for hayfever symptoms?

You do not need a prescription for hayfever medicines. Many treatments are available for little cost from a community pharmacy.

Community pharmacists can offer advice on how to avoid triggers and how to treat your hayfever.

What treatments can I buy?

Speak to a local pharmacist to get advice on the best treatment for your symptoms and always read the patient information leaflet that is included with the medicine.
Examples of products available to buy include:
Antihistamine tablets and syrup
Generally effective at controlling symptoms of hayfever.
Antihistimines are more effective if they are taken before symptoms start rather than after. Some older antihistamine tablets such as chlorphenamine can cause drowsiness.
Newer antihistamines are unlikely to cause drowsiness and include cetirizine, loratadine, and acrivastine. If you drive or operate machinery ask the community pharmacist which tablets would be best for you.
Nasal sprays
Useful if you suffer nasal symptoms and can be used instead of, or in addition to, antihistamine tablets.
Steroid nasal sprays suppress the allergic reaction and inflammation of hayfever and take about 3 days to work. They are best started before the hayfever season begins and used throughout the season even if your symptoms have improved.
Antihistamine nasal sprays can be useful for people who have symptoms now and again.
Nasal decongestant sprays are useful if you suffer from a blocked nose, however they can only be used for 7 days as longer use can cause rebound congestion and block your nose up again. You may find inhalants (eucalyptus, menthol and Olbas Oil) helpful to ease blocked and stuffy noses.
Eye dropsIf your eye symptoms are not controlled by oral antihistamines, eye drops containing sodium cromoglicate or lodoxamide may be useful.
If you wear contact lenses you should check with a community pharmacist or your optician before using eye drops.
Other useful treatmentsSimple pain relief (e.g. paracetamol or ibuprofen) can help with headaches and sinus pain. Throat lozenges can help ease tickly throats and palates. Decongestant tablets should relieve blocked noses.
Source: NHS PrescQIPP

You can also access advice on hayfever self-care 24 hours a day on the NHS Choices website here
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