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Hay Fever & Allergies

Did you know that hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, affects millions of people in the United Kingdom? It's one of the most common chronic conditions, and it can make your life miserable.

Hay fever is a common condition that occurs from late March until September. It's caused by an increase in pollen, which causes an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with the eyes, mouth, nose, and skin, making your immune system overreact, causing symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.

But there's good news: there are many effective treatments available to buy online from Pharmacy Online, including antihistamine tablets, eye drops, and nasal sprays to alleviate hay fever and allergy symptoms.

What are hay fever and allergies?

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic response where your immune system overreacts to substances in the environment, known as allergens. This overreaction happens because your body mistakenly sees these normally harmless substances as threats.

When you come into contact with an allergen, your body releases histamine, a chemical that triggers allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, and watery eyes. This response is your body's way of trying to expel or protect you from these allergens.

Common allergens:

  • Pollen: Pollen is one of the most common causes of hay fever. It comes from trees, grasses, and weeds. The amount of pollen in the air can vary depending on the time of year and weather conditions. Pollen levels are typically higher on warm, dry, and windy days, and lower on cool, damp, and rainy days.
  • Dust mites: These are tiny creatures that thrive in household dust. They're too small to see with the naked eye but can trigger allergic reactions. They're commonly found in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets. Reducing humidity and regular cleaning can help manage dust mite allergies.
  • Pet dander: This is composed of tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds, and other animals with fur or feathers. These particles can be carried in the air and trigger allergic reactions. Regular cleaning and keeping pets out of certain areas can help reduce exposure to pet dander.
  • Mould Spores: Moulds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. They release spores into the air, which can be inhaled and cause allergic reactions. Mould thrives in damp, humid areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Reducing indoor humidity and fixing leaks can help control mould growth.

Difference between seasonal and perennial hay fever

Hay fever can be broadly classified into two types based on its occurrence and the allergens causing it: Seasonal and Perennial. Understanding the difference between these two is crucial for effective management and using the right allergy medications to relieve symptoms.

Seasonal Hay Fever (Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis):

  • Occurrence: This type of hay fever occurs at specific times of the year, mainly during spring, summer, or autumn when pollen counts are at their peak.
  • Allergens: The primary triggers are pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds. The type of pollen causing the allergic reaction can vary depending on the season and geographic location.
  • Characteristics: With seasonal allergies, individuals with seasonal hay fever experience symptoms like sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and throat irritation. The intensity of symptoms can vary from day to day, often influenced by the pollen count and weather conditions.

Perennial Hay Fever:

  • Occurrence: As the name suggests, perennial hay fever can occur all year round, not limited to any specific season.
  • Allergens: This form of hay fever is usually triggered by allergens that are consistently present in the individual's environment. Common triggers include dust mites, pet dander, and mould spores. Unlike seasonal hay fever, where pollen is the main irritant, these allergens are typically found indoors.
  • Characteristics: People with perennial hay fever may experience chronic symptoms, which can sometimes be less intense but more persistent than those of seasonal hay fever. Symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion are common. Additionally, because these allergens are present in the home environment, symptoms may persist throughout the year, often leading to a mistaken belief that the individual has a permanent cold or is always sick.

Symptoms of hay fever and allergies

Symptoms of hay fever and allergies can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe.

You might experience sneezing, a runny or itchy nose, watery or itchy eyes, and a scratchy throat. Sometimes, you might have a headache, feel tired, have earaches, or feel like your sinuses are blocked.

Common symptoms of hay fever and allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Watery, red, or swollen eyes
  • Postnasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

It's important to note that these symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for those of a common cold. However, hay fever and allergy symptoms tend to persist longer than those of a cold, especially if you continue to be exposed to the allergen.

Understanding these symptoms can help in seeking the appropriate treatment and relief.

Causes and triggers of hay fever and allergies

Hay fever and allergies occur when your immune system reacts to certain substances in your environment, known as allergens. These allergens, when inhaled or coming into contact with the eyes, nose, or skin, trigger an immune response. The body mistakenly sees these substances as harmful and releases histamine, leading to allergy symptoms.

Triggers of hay fever and allergies include:

  • Specific seasons
  • Dusty environments
  • Pet exposure
  • Mould exposure

Management and treatments for hay fever and allergies

The sooner you recognise and treat hay fever or allergy symptoms, the better you can manage your condition and prevent complications. Early treatment can help reduce the severity of symptoms, shorten the duration of your allergy season, and improve your overall quality of life.

Over the counter medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be effective in relieving many hay fever and allergy symptoms. These medications include:

  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines block the action of histamine, the chemical that triggers allergy symptoms. They can help reduce sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and throat irritation.
  • Decongestants: Decongestants help reduce swelling in the nasal passages, making it easier to breathe. They can be used as a nasal spray, oral tablet, or syrup.
  • Eye drops: Eye drops can relieve itchy, red, and watery eyes caused by allergies. There are several types of eye drops available, including antihistamine, decongestant, and corticosteroid eye drops.
  • Nasal sprays: Nasal sprays can reduce congestion, inflammation, and symptoms such as a runny nose and postnasal drip. There are several types of nasal sprays available, including antihistamine nasal sprays, corticosteroid nasal sprays, and saline nasal sprays.
  • Prescription medications: In some cases, prescription medications may be necessary to control severe hay fever or allergies. These medications may include:
  1. Prescription antihistamines
  2. Prescription decongestants
  3. Prescription eye drops
  4. Prescription nasal sprays
  5. Prescription allergy shots (immunotherapy)

Always speak with a healthcare professional such as your doctor or pharmacist to get a proper diagnosis of your hay fever or allergies, and to develop a personalised treatment plan based on your individual symptoms, triggers, and medical history.

Side effects of hay fever and allergies medications

Both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications for hay fever and allergies are effective in managing symptoms, but they can also come with side effects.

It's important to be aware of these potential side effects to use these medications safely and effectively.

Common side effects:

  • Drowsiness: Some allergy medications, particularly older antihistamines, can cause drowsiness, which may affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.
  • Dry mouth: A reduction in saliva production leading to a feeling of dryness in the mouth is a common side effect.
  • Blurred vision: Certain medications can affect your vision, making it blurry; this is typically temporary.
  • Dizziness: Some people may experience dizziness or a feeling of being lightheaded after taking allergy medications.

Additional considerations:

  • Nasal decongestant sprays: If used for longer than recommended, these can lead to a rebound effect, causing more congestion.
  • Long-term use: Long-term use of some allergy medications can have additional effects.

If you're worried about any of these side effects, or if you experience any side effects from your hay fever or allergy medication, talk to your healthcare professional.

Allergy testing and specialist referrals

If you experience severe symptoms, where over-the-counter or general prescription medications are not effective, we advise you consult your doctor for specialised testing and treatment. Allergy testing is a crucial step in pinpointing the specific allergens responsible for your symptoms. This process involves exposing you to a small amount of various allergens in a controlled setting and observing your body's reaction.

Prescription services from Pharmacy Online

At Pharmacy Online, we offer a variety of prescription services to help you manage your hay fever or allergies. You can order your prescription medications online and have them delivered directly to your door.

We also offer a variety of other services, such as online consultations with pharmacists and medication refill reminders.

Complete a short online assessment

To help you find the most effective hay fever and allergy medication, we can offer a quick online assessment. This simple process involves answering a few questions to determine the best treatment options for your specific symptoms.

After you submit your answers, one of our qualified medical professionals will review them and, if suitable, prescribe the appropriate medication.

We guarantee your privacy, ensuring all medications are shipped in discreet packaging directly to your home. If you have any questions about our hay fever and allergy treatments, or if you're unsure about where to begin, our dedicated pharmacists are here to provide guidance and support.


  • Can hay fever symptoms be mistaken for a cold?

    Hay fever symptoms often resemble those of a common cold. Both can cause sneezing, a runny nose, and congestion. However, hay fever usually includes itchy eyes and doesn't cause a fever, unlike a cold. Also, cold symptoms resolve within a week or two, whereas hay fever symptoms persist as long as the allergen is present.

  • When do I need to see a doctor?

    It's advisable to see a doctor for hay fever if your symptoms persist despite over-the-counter treatments, if they significantly disrupt your daily life, or if you experience complications like sinus infections. A doctor can provide a proper diagnosis and may prescribe stronger medications or refer you for allergy testing.

    If you notice symptoms like shortness of breath or wheezing, it's important to seek medical attention, as these could indicate asthma or another serious condition linked to allergies.

  • What are the best ways to prevent hay fever?

    The best way to prevent hay fever is to avoid exposure to allergens. However, this isn't always possible. You can reduce your exposure to allergens by:

    • Staying indoors on high pollen days
    • Keeping windows closed
    • Wearing a mask when you are outdoors
    • Avoiding areas with high levels of dust mites, pet dander, or mould

  • Can children develop hay fever, and how can it be managed?

    Yes, children can develop hay fever, often displaying symptoms similar to adults, like sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. When managing hay fever in children, always speak to a healthcare professional before administering any over-the-counter medications, as adult allergy medications aren't suitable for children.

  • Is it possible to develop hay fever later in life?

    Yes, it's possible to develop hay fever later in life, even if you didn't have it as a child. Changes in your environment, such as moving to a new area with different plant species, can trigger hay fever.

    Also, changes in your immune system as you age can also make you more susceptible to developing allergies. If you start experiencing symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, and a runny nose, particularly during certain seasons, it might be hay fever.

    Speaking with a healthcare professional can help confirm the diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment options to manage the symptoms effectively.

  • Can hay fever lead to other health complications?

    Yes, hay fever can lead to other health complications if not properly managed. Chronic hay fever can result in sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses, due to prolonged nasal congestion. This condition can cause pain, pressure, and even infections.

    Hay fever can also exacerbate asthma symptoms in people with asthma, leading to more frequent or severe asthma attacks. It can also contribute to ear infections, particularly in children, and can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and reduced quality of life.


There are many different treatment options for hay fever which can help to reduce symptoms. Our dedicated team are readily available to help you choose a treatment option that will work best for you. Get in touch for further advice or start a consultation on a treatment.


Symptoms of hay fever may include:

  • Earache
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue


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