Pharmacists stock a range of treatments that could help relieve the symptoms of hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis.
Topical decongestants, such as oxymetazoline and xylometazoline, which come in a nasal spray, can help relieve hay fever. However, they should not be used for longer than 5 days, as rebound congestion can occur through extended use.
Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine are also only recommended for short-term use. They dry up the runny nose, but may cause restlessness, anxiety and insomnia, particularly in children. People with high blood pressure, heart problems, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, urinary retention, diabetes and those taking MAOI antidepressants, should avoid oral decongestants.
There are 2 types of oral antihistamines — sedating and non-sedating.
Topical antihistamines, such as eye drops or nasal spray, may also be of assistance, but you should remove any contact lenses before applying eye drops.
Oral combination products may include an antihistamine with a decongestant such as pseudoephedrine. Products containing pseudoephedrine may cause insomnia.
Another oral medication that can be used to treat seasonal allergic rhinitis symptoms is montelukast (brand name Singulair). This medicine — a so-called leukotriene receptor antagonist — can also be used in the treatment of asthma.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays are useful for both treatment and prevention. They can be used at the start of the hay fever season to prevent symptoms occurring. A decongestant or antihistamine may also be required initially as relief may be delayed a few days.
Ipratropium bromide nasal spray (e.g. Atrovent Nasal) can be used to treat a severe runny nose. Sodium cromoglycate nasal spray (e.g. Rynacrom) can help prevent hay fever symptoms, and is often used in children.
Some supplements may help if you suffer from hay fever. They include:
Last Reviewed: 31 March 2009