You are here:

Hay Fever – a survivor’s guide

A man sneezing

It's the time of year to go outside and enjoy summer but for many of us, 1 in 5, it means hay fever season.

Hay fever is a common allergic reaction triggered by pollen, and results in symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes. It usually begins in childhood, with boys being more susceptible than girls at this age, but can happen at any stage of life.

How to avoid hay fever and treatment

Unfortunately there is no cure for hay fever but there are things that you can do to reduce the symptoms:

  • Stay indoors and keep windows and doors shut.
  • Avoid cut grass.
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes.
  • Take a shower and change your clothes when you get home can also help by removing the pollen from your body.
  • Vacuum regularly, ideally using a machine with a HEPA (high-efficiency particle arresting) filter.
  • Damp dust regularly. Dusting with a wet cloth will collect the dust and stop any pollen from being spread around.
  • Don't smoke or let other people smoke in your house. Smoke will irritate the lining of your nose, eyes, throat and airways, and could make your symptoms worse.
  • Don’t dry your clothes outside. This will help prevent bringing pollen into your home.

Hay fever treatment

Symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines. If these fail to improve your symptoms, you can visit your GP who may prescribe you with steroid medication called corticosteroids.

Hay fever does not pose a serious threat to health, but there are other severe allergic reactions which are far more dangerous. For full details on severe allergic reactions and how to treat them, visit our first aid advice section.