“Treating your hay fever and your asthma at the same time could cut your risk of an asthma attack,” says Debby Waddell, asthma nurse specialist. “All these hay fever treatments are safe to use with your inhalers and other asthma medicines.”
Antihistamines are cheap and fast-acting. They come as tablets, liquid, or a nasal spray, and should take just an hour or so to work.
Antihistamines help to ease hay fever symptoms and so reduce the risk of pollen allergy triggering your asthma.
Antihistamines are useful if you have mild hay fever symptoms that come and go.
Find the right antihistamine for you
Your pharmacist can help you find the right antihistamine for you.
- Own brand or non-branded antihistamines are cheaper than branded ones and work just as well.
- Ask about non-drowsy versions.
- If the antihistamine you’re taking isn’t working, ask about other options.
“If your hay fever’s really bad and bothering you every day, using a steroid nasal spray is the best way to deal with your symptoms,” says nurse Debby.
Steroid nasal sprays unblock your nose. They probably work the best out of all the hay fever treatments. But it can take some time to feel the benefits, so don’t expect to see immediate results.
Nasal sprays use tiny amounts of steroids to reduce the swelling in your nose so you can breathe more easily.
Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth moistens and filters the air, so it’s less likely to irritate your sensitive airways.
Steroid nasal sprays can also help reduce sneezing, itching, a runny nose and itchy eyes.
You need to make sure you take your nasal spray correctly or it won’t work. Watch our video to see to how to use a nasal spray.
Give your nasal spray the best chance of working
You should notice the most effect from your nasal spray after two weeks.
If you know when your hay fever usually begins, start using a steroid nasal spray about two weeks before.
This means the nasal spray will be working most effectively when you start to get hay fever symptoms, so you can get the benefits straight away. If you don’t think it’s working, see your GP.
- If you’re already having symptoms, it's still worth starting a nasal spray.
- If your doctor prescribed your nasal spray, keep using it until you’re told to stop.
- If you bought one over the counter, see your GP if you’ve been using it for over four weeks.
- If you get nosebleeds, or any other side effects, talk to your pharmacist or GP about trying a different medicine.
Eye drops can help to soothe itchy, runny eyes. Some steroid nasal sprays do this job too, so you may not need both.
- Clear your nose with a saline wash from the chemist – as well as making you more comfortable, it may mean you need to use less nasal spray and/or antihistamine medicine.
- Put Vaseline round your nostrils to trap pollen before it gets into your nose and airways.
- Change your clothes and have a shower when you come home, to wash off any pollen.
- Try to keep windows and doors shut as much as possible.
If your hay fever isn’t under control, it could trigger your asthma symptoms or even an asthma attack, so if your hay fever symptoms don’t go away with the usual treatments, or are getting worse, see your GP.
They may recommend one of these treatment options:
Montelukast tablets can be taken alongside your inhalers and can help both asthma and hay fever.
They’re a medicine type called Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists (LTRAs).
Montelukast is not a licensed treatment for hayfever but is an add on treatment for asthma. Some people with asthma find it is helpful for their nasal congestion.
Seeing an allergy specialist
A specialist can test your allergies to understand your specific triggers.
If your allergic symptoms are severe, they might recommend immunotherapy to help your body get used to your trigger – see the NHS website for more information.
- Always carry your reliever inhaler (usually blue) with you.
- If you need to use your reliever inhaler three or more times a week, see your GP urgently -you’re at risk of an asthma attack.
- Don’t forget your preventer inhaler.This helps to reduce the swelling in your airways so you're less likely to react to triggers like pollen.
Severe asthma and hay fever
If you have severe asthma and your symptoms are triggered by allergies, talk to your severe asthma team about treatments available that could help you.
Talk to an asthma nurse about your hay fever
Call our nurses on 0300 222 5800, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606728.
Last reviewed March 2020
Next review due March 2023