Hay fever

Hay fever is a common allergic reaction to pollen from grass, trees and weeds. Symptoms are most common from spring until autumn. 

Symptoms change depending on the weather and the pollen count

Symptoms include:

  • itchy, watery or red eyes
  • itchy throat
  • sneezing and coughing
  • runny or blocked nose
  • headache
  • feeling tired

If you have asthma you may:

  • have a tight feeling in your chest
  • be short of breath
  • wheeze and cough

Hay fever will last for weeks or months. A cold usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks.

Top Tips to manage your child's hay fever

There is no cure for hay fever. You can do things to reduce your child’s symptoms when the pollen count is high.

  • Keep windows and doors shut
  • Stay indoors when possible
  • Shower and change clothes after they have been outside to wash pollen off
  • Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • Put barrier balm, for example Vaseline, around their nostrils to trap pollen
  • Wear wrap around sunglasses to stop pollen getting in their eyes
  • Make sure the house is smoke free
  • Don’t walk on grass
  • Don’t have fresh flowers in the house
  • Don’t dry clothes outside. They can carry pollen indoors
  • Don’t let pets into the house if possible. They can carry pollen indoors

Hay fever medicines

Medicines for hay fever control the symptoms but do not cure it.

There are 3 types of medicines which can treat hayfever. The choice of medicine for your child will depend on their age and symptoms.

  • Antihistamine medicines. There are antihistamines which make people feel sleepy, for example chlorphenamine. There are antihistamines which are non drowsy and less likely to make people feel sleepy, for example cetirizine and loratidine.
  • Nasal sprays
  • Eye drops

Speak to your local community pharmacist about hay fever. They can give advice and suggest the best treatment.

 Itchy Sneezy Wheezy has some good videos showing children how to use nasal sprays. 

When to seek help

For further information on when to seek help see the page on allergic reactions.

Speak to your GP if your child's symptoms:

  • are getting worse
  • don't improve after using hay fever medicines

Further information

Allergy UK has more information about hay fever