If you’re one of the approximately 20% of people in the UK who suffer from hay fever, you probably dread the onset of warm, humid weather which comes as we head through Spring and on into Summer. There may be no cure for hay fever, but there are a number of effective remedies that are readily available which can make, living with it more bearable.

1. Antihistamine Tablets

Antihistamine tablets are an effective treatment for most hay fever symptoms and are available over the counter from your local pharmacy. They block the production of histamine in your body which causes the symptoms of hay fever when you’re exposed to pollen. You can take them when symptoms start, or in advance of going out on a day when the pollen count is high.

There are various products available; however, not all types work for everyone. Some older antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness, so speak to your pharmacist about alternatives.

2. Decongestant Nasal Sprays

Congestion is a common symptom of hay fever, caused by inflammation of the nasal passages. Decongestants reduce inflammation to make breathing easier. They also often contain agents to soothe and moisturise the lining of your nose.

Nasal sprays are effective as long as they are only used for fewer than seven days. Prolonged use can actually make symptoms worse due to the effect that is known as rebound congestion.

3. Eye Drops

For many people, itchy eyes are the main symptom of hay fever, and eye drops can give much-needed relief. Those containing antihistamines are specifically designed to treat allergies, but other products can be very effective too. For example, A. Vogel Eye Drops are designed to help soothe and moisturise irritated eyes.

4. Nasal Rinsing

If nasal congestion is your main symptom, rinsing your nasal passages can be an effective remedy. By washing away excess mucus, it removes irritants and allergens and helps to reduce inflammation. The easiest way to do it is with a neti pot, which you can get from your local pharmacy. You will need a sterile solution which you can either buy from your pharmacist or make at home.

5. Homeopathic Medicine

One of the benefits of homeopathic treatments is that they don’t make you drowsy, as can be the case with some antihistamines. They contain only natural ingredients and can help treat the symptoms of hay fever. A popular example is Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets by A. Vogel. These tablets contain seven different herbs and can also be used to treat other allergies that affect the eyes, nose and throat.

Take advice

Before you take any medication, you should get professional advice. Your pharmacist has the knowledge and experience to guide you to the right products and explain how they can help you.

For some people, over the counter treatments will not be effective. In this case, you should speak to your GP who can prescribe stronger medications.