Hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is a common allergic condition. Symptoms of hay fever are similar to those of common colds and include:

  • Dry or runny nose

  • Itchy and watering eyes

  • Sneezing

Living with Hay Fever

Hay fever is a common condition that is estimated to affect around 20% of people. Hay fever is more likely if there is a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema. Hay fever is a usually a seasonal condition (late spring to early autumn approx.) and individuals can be affected at different times during the season. People with hay fever are commonly allergic to pollen and spores. Pollen is the tiny, dust-like particles given off by certain types of trees, grasses, weeds and flowers. Spores are produced by fungi and moulds.

Some people may experience hay fever-like symptoms all year round. This is usually caused by an allergy to things (allergens) present in everyday life, such as house-dust mites, furry/ feathery animals, or some foods.


The best way to treat an allergy is to identify the allergic trigger and to avoid it.

When patients with hay fever come in contact with a trigger it can cause histamine (a key chemical found within the body) to over produce. The release of histamine causes hay fever symptoms to flare up. However, it’s not always practical to avoid all triggers and patients may need medication to relieve symptoms, for example:


Antihistamines provide quick relief for symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and itchy throat. They are available over the counter, in many forms to suit a patient’s individual needs. For example, Cetrine, offers a convenient once-a-day dose to alleviate all the symptoms of Hay Fever for adults and children over 6 years. Cetrine solution is a convenient liquid formulation suitable for children and those who cannot swallow tablets.

Decongestant Sprays

Decongestant sprays may be used occasionally to relieve stuffy or blocked noses. Common examples include Sudafed and Otrivine nasal sprays.

Preventer Treatments

Preventer treatments are used to prevent nose and eye symptoms developing. If you have hay fever, you should start using them a couple of weeks before the hay fever season starts.

Eye drops, nasal sprays and nose drops are all available. Some contain a steroid (for example Flixonase (fluticasone), Beconase (beclomethasone).

Eye Drops

Opticrom Drops: If you suffer from itchy watery eyes these drops can be administered four times a day in each eye to relieve symptoms. It is suitable for adults and children. Each bottle lasts for 28 days before expiring and they can be kept in your handbag or pocket for convenient use. Do not wear soft contact lenses during treatment and avoid in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Optrex itchy eye drops: these are a safe option for pregnant and breast-feeding women with itchy, watery eyes. They contain natural plant extracts to relieve irritation by pollen, pet and dust mites. They can be used as often as required.

Non Drug Treatments

Becodefence Nasal Spray offers a non-drug alternative to traditional remedies. The spray creates a protective lining in the nasal passages which blocks allergen contact.

Which treatment is for me?

At Hickey’s Pharmacy, our pharmacists can advise you on the treatments best suited to your needs.

Often the best way to control symptoms is to use a combination treatment, a preventer nasal spray or drops together with an antihistamine tablet. Anti-allergy eye drops are also available for patients suffering from watery eyes.

It is important to realise that hay fever symptoms can easily be treated and kept under control.

Please do not hesitate to drop into your local Hickey’s Pharmacy and ask a member of our healthcare team for the best advice and treatment option for you.

*Always read the label.


  • Antihistamines are highly effective at reducing the symptoms of hay fever
  • Decongestants can help in the early days to relive nasal congestion
  • Avoid large fields with lots of grass
  • Rub petroleum jelly underneath your nose
  • Wear glasses or a hat to stop pollen settling
  • Wash your hands, face and hair after you have been outdoors
  • Check weather
  • Morning & night pollen count is at it’s highest, try to avoid going outside at these times
  • Dry clothes indoors to avoid pollen sticking to them
  • Keep windows closed at night and while driving
  • Avoid drinking alcohol

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