Treatment options for hayfever 

Treatment
Pros
Cons
Pollen avoidance

Taking steps to minimise your exposure to pollen, such as closing windows, wearing wraparound sunglasses and avoiding grassy areas

  • Can often relieve symptoms without the need for medication
  • Not always possible to do this successfully
Antihistamines

Tablets and nasal sprays that block the effects of a chemical called histamine, which is responsible for many of the symptoms of hay fever

  • Often effective in relieving symptoms such as itching, sneezing and watery eyes
  • Available over the counter from your local pharmacist without a prescription
  • May not be effective in treating a blocked-up nose
  • Can cause drowsiness in some people
Steroid drops and sprays

Steroid drops and sprays can help reduce inflammation around the eyes and inside the nasal passages

  • Can be an effective treatment for a blocked nose and watery eyes when antihistamines don't work
  • Side effects can include nasal irritation and dryness, nosebleeds, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and itchy skin around the nose
Steroid tablets

More powerful form of steroid medication

  • An effective treatment if short-term relief of severe symptoms is needed, such as before an exam or driving test
  • Taking steroid tablets for more than 10 days can increase the risk of side effects, such as weight gain, mood changes and acne
Nasal decongestants

A nasal spray that reduces the swelling in blood vessels, making breathing easier

  • Effective for treating a blocked nose
  • Can't be used for more than seven days because it can make your symptoms worse
Eye drops

Eye drops containing antihistamines

  • Effective for treating watery, itchy and red eyes
  • Side effects include some mild stinging and burning of the eyes
Immunotherapy

Regular exposure to small amounts of the substance you're allergic to, allowing your immune system to get used to it

  • Can be effective in treating persistent symptoms that don't respond to conventional treatment
  • Only available at specialist allergy clinics
  • Can take months or, in some cases, years to work