Preventing hay fever

Hay fever affects around 20% of people in the UK. Lindsey McManus of Allergy UK offers some tips on avoiding the causes and reducing your symptoms.

"The main triggers of hay fever are tree and grass pollen,” says Lindsey. “The pollen count is always higher when it’s a nice, bright, sunny day.”

Don’t mow your lawn

If grass makes you sneeze, get someone else to mow your lawn. “It sounds obvious, but many people don’t think of this,” says Lindsey. If you react to grass and you spend time on the lawn, you'll get symptoms.

Create a barrier

Smear Vaseline inside your nostrils. “This acts as a filter for the pollen,” says Lindsey.

Time it right

Don’t sit outside between 4pm and 7pm or in the early morning, as the pollen count is highest at these times. “If you go out, or need to hang out the washing, do it after 10.30am and before 3.30pm,” says Lindsey. 

Shut the windows

Don’t sleep or drive with the windows open, as this will allow pollen to come in.

Damp dust regularly

Dusting with a wet cloth, rather than a dry one, will collect the dust and stop any pollen from being spread around.

Wash your hair

“Pollen is sticky and may be in your hair,” says Lindsey. “It can then transfer to your pillow when you go to bed, and will affect you during the night.” If you’ve been out in the evening, wash your hair at bed time, as clean hair can help you sleep better.


“Pollen can live in carpet for up to three months,” explains Lindsey, so get vacuuming.

Allergy UK helpline:
01322 619898

Think about your medication

Talk to your GP or pharmacist about any treatment you’re taking for hay fever as it might be worth trying a new treatment. 

“The same antihistamine [anti-allergy treatment] doesn’t always work for someone year after year,” Lindsey says. “Try something different, such as a nasal spray or a new antihistamine.”

You can take early steps to avoid symptoms of hay fever before they start. “Most people wait until symptoms start before they take treatment, but you really need to start at least two weeks before, so that the antihistamine is already in your system when pollen triggers your hay fever,” says Lindsey.

Look back at previous years to work out what time of year your hay fever usually starts, and try to identify what triggers your hay fever. For example, grass pollen is in the air from May until July or August, so you could start taking antihistamine in April. You can find out more about the pollen count each day.

You can also talk to your GP or call the Allergy UK helpline for more information.

Don’t ignore hay fever

Hay fever can make everyday life uncomfortable and tiring, with sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose and an itchy throat. However, there are hay fever treatments available and symptoms can get better.

Hay fever can also increase your risk of asthma. “There is a definite link between hay fever and asthma,” says Lindsey. “If you get hay fever, you’re more likely to get asthma so it’s important to take hay fever seriously and try to treat the symptoms.”

Hay fever advice

Hay fever is an allergy to pollen that affects around one in four people. An expert explains how it's diagnosed, the symptoms and treatment.

Media last reviewed: 19/03/2013

Next review due: 19/03/2015

Page last reviewed: 22/05/2012

Next review due: 22/05/2014


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

DanniF2301 said on 04 June 2013

Hi, my boyfriend suffers really badly from hay fever. He has been to the doctors and GP on several occasions and has been told to keep taking the usual remedies, prescription medication and over the counter medicines. Yet nothing seems to work. He has to wrap up his face with wraparound sunglasses and when working (he's a farmer) he works in a sealed tractor. I feel really bad for him as he just feels useless when it starts to play up. Is there anything he could do or take? Other than what he already takes?
Thank you

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