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Treatment for Hay Fever

Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen and other airborne allergens, which can lead to a range of symptoms, including sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, itchy throat, coughing, fatigue, and headache.

While there is no cure for hay fever, several treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life, such as:

NPS/ iStock | Prevention is a big part of hay fever treatment


Antihistamines are medications that block the effects of histamine, a chemical released by the body in response to allergens. Histamine is responsible for many of hay fever symptoms, including itching, sneezing, and runny nose. By blocking histamine, antihistamines can relieve these symptoms and help improve quality of life.

There are two types of antihistamines: first-generation and second-generation. First-generation antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, can cause drowsiness and are generally not recommended for daytime use. Second-generation antihistamines, such as loratadine and cetirizine, are less likely to cause drowsiness and are generally preferred for daytime use.


Decongestants are medications that narrow the nose’s blood vessels and reduce swelling and congestion. They can be taken orally or as a nasal spray. Oral decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, can cause side effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure and are generally not recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure.

Nasal decongestants, such as oxymetazoline, should be used for short periods, as they can cause rebound congestion if used for more than a few days.

Ryan O’Hare/ Shutterstock | Hay fever affects 20 – 25% of people across America and Western Europe

Nasal Corticosteroids

Nasal corticosteroids are medications that reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, which can help relieve congestion, itching, and sneezing. They are available as nasal sprays and are generally safe and effective for long-term use. Some common nasal corticosteroids include fluticasone and budesonide.


Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a treatment that involves injecting small amounts of allergens into the body over time, which can help the body build up a tolerance to the allergens and reduce the symptoms of hay fever. Immunotherapy is typically recommended for people with severe hay fever or those who do not respond well to other treatments.

Freepik/ Wayhomestudio | The condition can be seasonal or year-round, depending on the allergen triggers

Allergy Avoidance

Avoiding exposure to allergens, such as pollen and dust, can help reduce hay fever symptoms. This can be done by staying indoors during high pollen count days, using air conditioning, and wearing a mask when outdoors.

Combination Therapy

Combination therapy involves using two or more medications to treat hay fever. For example, a nasal corticosteroid and an antihistamine may relieve congestion, itching, and sneezing. Combination therapy can be more effective than a single medication alone and may be recommended for people with severe hay fever.

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