Allergy treatments and hay fever remedies

Nobody wants to be allergic - whether it is to pets, pollen or something else. Fortunately, today there are effective allergy treatments and hay fever relief. Some people are sufficiently helped by the over-the-counter medicines that can be found in pharmacies. Many people do not get an adequate reduction of their symptoms from over-the-counter medicines - in which case it is best to schedule an appointment with a doctor who can prescribe more effective allergy medication if needed.

If you are unsure of what is causing your allergy you may need to undergo an allergy test at your health centre. There are also allergy clinics where your doctor can refer you. Most allergies are treated in similar ways, but if you know what it is that you are not tolerating, it may be easier to avoid the irritating substances that are causing your symptoms.

The treatment that will suit you the best depends on what you are allergic to, how sensitive you are and how often you are exposed to the substance that you do not tolerate. It is important that you do not give up until you have found a treatment which enables you to live with your allergy, and still maintain a good quality of life. Nobody should have to accept having to walk around feeling tired with a runny nose because of hay fever. There is help to be found.

Common hay fever and allergy treatments

Over- the-counter medicines:


The first medicine to try if the allergy is mild and temporary is antihistamine tablets. Antihistamine blocks the allergic reaction of the body and is used to treat allergies to pollen, pets, dust mites, mould and some food, among other things. It can relieve itchiness of the nose and eyes and also decreases rhinitis and other symptoms such as sneezing. Antihistamine is available as tablets, eye drops and nasal spray. The effect is seen within 15 minutes from topical use but longer for oral use and will therefore give a quick alleviation of the most acute symptoms. These medicines can be bought over-the-counter in pharmacies, but it is also possible to get them prescribed.


Nasal spray with corticosteroid (glucocorticoids) may help if you are suffering from an allergy. The corticosteroid reduces the inflammation that occurs due to the allergy, and has a good effect on nasal congestion and other symptoms of rhinitis. One disadvantage of corticosteroids is that it takes quite a long time before the effect is noticeable, which might be frustrating when the symptoms are at their worst. However, it is important to use corticosteroids on a regular basis in order to reach full effect from it. If the symptoms are mild, nasal spray can be bought over-the-counter in pharmacies, but it is also possible to get a prescription based medicine. If you continue to experience problems in spite of the treatment or if your problems are prolonged, a more effective treatment can be prescribed by a doctor.

Prescription Medicines

Nasal spray with antihistamine and corticosteroid:

In more severe symptoms, it is not uncommon that corticosteroids or antihistamine only, will not have a sufficient impact on the problem. In such cases a doctor can prescribe a nasal spray, which contains both antihistamine and corticosteroid. The treatment will then counteract the emergence of symptoms caused by histamine, and at the same time treat the symptoms caused by the inflammatory reaction of the allergy, meaning there will be a good effect on the nose itch, sneezing, the runny nose and the nasal congestion, and also on red, watery and itchy eyes. Antihistamine in nasal sprays will contribute to a quicker effect compared with that of a nasal spray containing corticosteroid only with an initial alleviation being reached within 15 minutes, giving quick allergy relief to your allergy or hay fever. 

Corticosteroid tablets:

You may be prescribed corticosteroid tables for a short period of time in order to achieve a more effective solution. Corticosteroids tablets relieve the inflammation in the body and have been shown to have a good effect on nasal congestion, whilst also decreasing a runny nose and sneezing.

Since corticosteroid tablets are affecting the entire body, a local treatment with a nasal spray is usually preferred, but if other treatments are not sufficient you may take corticosteroid tablets for a short period of time in order to receive a more effective solution.

Allergy vaccine therapy (desensitization)

If you are suffering from severe symptoms despite trying all available medication treatments you may need to go through an allergy vaccine treatment. This treatment involves injecting you with very small amounts of the substance you are allergic to, over a 3-5 year period for the immune system to slowly get used to it, and to not react so strongly to the substance in the long run. It therefore increases the body's threshold for the allergenic substance, which means that the allergic reaction is weakened. The treatment is usually given (as injections) at an allergy clinic. It takes several years of treatment in order for the body to get used to it, which is why you will only receive allergy vaccine therapy if other allergy treatments have not been successful.

UK/GEN/15/0057e                   Date of preparation: December 2015 

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