READING: How to treat hayfever: Six options explained

Managing My HayFever

How to treat hayfever:
Six options explained

It’s easy to be confused by the large choice of hayfever treatments. Here’s a quick guide to what’s available, but it’s always best to ask a GP or pharmacist for advice.

Two min read

Medication will not cure your hayfever, but the correct treatment can be a great help in reducing your symptoms. Take care though. The wrong choice can cause problems, and it’s best to ask a GP or pharmacist for advice before using medication.

Antihistamines and intranasal corticosteroids are the two main types of medication recommended for the treatment of hayfever.

Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of a chemical called histamine that your body releases to defend itself when it mistakes your hayfever trigger as a threat.

Intranasal corticosteroids are used because they reduce the inflammation that occurs when your body reacts.

Here is a summary of the different options:


These are available as tablets, nasal sprays, syrups and eye drops. They help to relieve sneezing and nose, eye and skin discomfort. The main advantage is they are relatively fast-acting, and you can use them as and when you need them.

Intranasal corticosteroids

You spray this medicine into your nostrils to reduce the inflammation caused by your body’s reaction to your hayfever trigger. The medicine works best when you use it regularly. It is useful to get advice on which strength and type is right for you and to ask a pharmacist to show you how to use the spray correctly.

Combination nasal sprays

Talk to your doctor about prescription only nasal sprays if over the counter products are not adequately managing your hayfever.

Natural treatment

Saltwater sprays and douches can help clear your nose and help relieve symptoms but should not be regarded as a replacement for the correct medicine.

Decongestant nasal sprays and tablets

These medicines may relieve your stuffy nose, but they can cause problems and should not be used for more than a few days at a time. People with high blood pressure and certain other medical conditions should not take decongestant tablets at all.

Allergen immunotherapy

If your symptoms are severe and you don’t receive satisfactory relief from the above treatments, your GP may refer you to a specialist, such as an immunologist or allergist. These doctors may give you allergy tests and may recommend treatment to desensitise you to your triggers.

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