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What's the best hayfever treatment?

We look at the options for managing your allergies.

hay fever treatment
Last updated: 10 December 2019

Need to know

  • People respond differently to different drugs, so if you've tried one type of antihistamine or corticosteroid and found it didn't help, try another
  • All hayfever medications have side effects and can interact with other drugs
  • If you've never taken hayfever medication before, or you're trying a new drug, consult your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it's safe for you

The misery of hay fever is nothing to sneeze at – but help is at hand. We take you though the options when it comes to allergy relief and help you choose the right medication for your symptoms. 

pollen

Seasonal allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to pollen from grass, weeds and trees.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is an inflammation or swelling of the nasal lining, which may cause congestion, a runny nose, itchy throat, watery or itchy eyes and/or sneezing. Hay fever has two forms:

  • Seasonal allergic rhinitis tends to occur in spring and summer due to an allergy to pollen from grass, weeds and trees.
  • Perennial allergic rhinitis has similar symptoms and may be triggered by dust mites, animal dander (particularly that of cats) or mould spores, and can occur throughout the year.

Affecting almost 20% of Australians, hay fever can have a significant impact on sufferers, causing lack of sleep and reduced productivity at work or school. Although it can't be cured, the symptoms can be managed to some extent. An allergy test can determine the source of the problem, which in turn can help with prevention and treatment strategies – avoiding or limiting exposure, for example.

Hay fever treatment options

Antihistamines and corticosteroids are the mainstays, but there are several other treatments which may suit some sufferers.

Top tips for taking hayfever medication

  • If you've never taken hayfever medication before, or are trying a new drug, it's a good idea to consult your doctor or pharmacist to make sure it's safe for you.
  • People respond differently to different drugs, so if you've tried one type of antihistamine or corticosteroid and found it didn't help, try another.
  • All hayfever medications have side effects, can interact with other drugs, and shouldn't be used by people with certain conditions or with allergies to ingredients.
  • If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor whether the potential benefits of medication outweigh the risks.
  • Before giving hayfever medication to a child under 12, consult your doctor for advice – some medications aren't suitable for young children, and some come in a child-friendly form such as drops or syrup. Read more about treating kids for hay fever.

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