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Hay Fever Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

1 in 4 people in the UK suffer with hay fever; that's over 10 million people. Most have moderate to severe symptoms.

90% of people still have symptoms even after taking medications from over the counter.

If you are suffering with hay fever symptoms book a Video GP Appointment today. Your prescription medications can be delivered to your door in Central London.

Yellow Flowers

What is hay fever?

Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, causes cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. But unlike a cold, hay fever isn't caused by a virus. Hay fever is when the body is allergic to pollen that is carried in the air. When pollen particles encounter the mouth, throat, or eyes, this can irritate the body, triggering a response. This response is the body overreacting to what it believes is an attack.

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

Hay fever symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose and nasal congestion

  • Watery, itchy, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)

  • Sneezing

  • Cough

  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat

  • Swollen, blue-coloured skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)

  • Postnasal drip

  • Fatigue

Hay fever, Covid-19, common cold or flu?

In the current climate of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic this differentiation has never been more important. We have highlighted a few of the key differences in the table below but as your can see there is plenty of overlap.


If you are concerned at all then book a Video GP Appointment today and discuss this with a GP. We can issues prescriptions straight to your local pharmacy or if you're in central London we can ever deliver your medications home. 

covid-19 vs common cold vs hay fever

What is the treatment for hay fever?

It's best to limit your exposure to things that trigger your hay fever as much as possible. If your hay fever isn't too severe, over-the-counter medications may be enough to relieve symptoms. For worse symptoms, you may need prescription medications.

Many people get the best relief from a combination of allergy medications. You might need to try a few before you find what works best. Your doctor will be able to guide you on this.

Medications for hay fever include:

  • Nasal corticosteroids also known as nasal sprays. These prescription nasal sprays help prevent and treat the nasal inflammation, nasal itching and runny nose caused by hay fever. For many people they're the most effective hay fever medications, and they are often the first type of medication prescribed.

    Nasal corticosteroids are a safe, long-term treatment for most people. Side effects can include an unpleasant smell or taste and nose irritation. Nasal steroid side effects are rare.

  • Antihistamines. These preparations are usually given as tablets. However, there are also antihistamine nasal sprays and eyedrops. Antihistamines can help with itching, sneezing and a runny nose but have less effect on congestion. They work by blocking a symptom-causing chemical released by your immune system during an allergic reaction (histamine).

  • Eye drops. These help relieve hay fever symptoms by preventing the release of histamine. Most effective when you start using it before you have symptoms, they generally have low risk of side-effects.

  • Oral corticosteroids. Corticosteroid pills such as prednisone sometimes are used to relieve severe allergy symptoms. Because the long-term use of corticosteroids can cause serious side effects such as cataracts, osteoporosis and muscle weakness, they're usually prescribed for only short periods of time.

Video GP Appointments

Benefits of Video GP appointments:

  • Quality: see a NHS trained UK GP today.

  • Cost effective: appointments from only £30.

  • Convenient: consultations can be done from the comfort of your own home and prescription medications  delivered to your door within Central London.

  • Safe: adheres to the current stay at home government advice and avoids you needing to come into a potentially high-risk clinical setting.

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