Hay fever

Allergic rhinitis (often known as hay fever)

Allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergy to pollen.

The symptoms are caused when a person has an allergic reaction to pollen.

Common symptoms

  • a runny, itchy and/or blocked nose
  • sneezing
  • itchy eyes


The best way to prevent allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergen that causes it. But we know this is not always easy! There is some advice on prevention (NHS.UK).

Self-care treatments

If you have mild allergic rhinitis, you can often treat the symptoms yourself.

It’s possible to treat the symptoms of mild allergic rhinitis with medicines you buy from a pharmacy or supermarket, such as long-acting non-sedating antihistamines (NHS.UK).

Regularly cleaning your nasal passages with a salt water solution, known as nasal douching or irrigation, can also help by keeping your nose free of irritants.

There is more information on nasal douching in the section titled “Cleaning your nasal passages” (NHS.UK).

Pharmacy treatments

If nasal douching and antihistamines do not relieve your symptoms, speak to your local community pharmacist about your symptoms.

They can give advice and suggest the best treatments, like antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays to help with:

  • itchy and watery eyes and sneezing
  • a blocked nose

If none of the above treatments are effective for you, and you would like some advice from your GP, please send us a request using PATCHS