How to Pick the Right Hay Fever Medicine By Ingredient?

Hay fever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is caused by an allergy to pollen and how your immune system reacts to it. It is triggered by naturally occurring pollen from grass, trees or weeds that, though harmless to most people, can be quite uncomfortable and irritating.

A seasonal allergy, hay fever is more prominent from late March to September as it is when the pollen count is at its highest. This is when the weather becomes much warmer, humid and windy, causing it to spread easily.

This leads to symptoms such as sneezing, blocked and runny noses and itchy eyes. Naturally, this can cause significant soreness and unpleasantness as it makes your everyday routine and sleeping difficult. If you also have asthma, it can also cause a shortness of breath and a tight feeling in the chest.

A common allergy, there is a wide range of hay fever medication and remedies to help you combat your hay fever. These treatments vary greatly from each other in how they address and treat pollen allergies. This is due to the different active ingredients used. They are designed to address and combat certain aspects of an allergic reaction. Some are better for unblocking noses and sinuses while others are better for sore eyes or headaches.  

In this article, we explore the different active ingredients in hay fever medicines and how they can help you. Through understanding how these treatments and remedies work, you can pick a hay fever medication tailored to you and your condition.

Are Antihistamines Right For my Hay Fever?

A general allergy medication, antihistamines is a common, over the counter treatment for hay fever that can help with itching, sneezing and runny noses. They do this by blocking Histamines, a chemical that causes the symptoms, which is released when your immune system comes into contact with pollen However, they’re less effective with congestion.

One important aspect to consider when picking an Antihistamine is the active ingredients. Certain ingredients can cause drowsiness and others don’t.

Older Antihistamines that use Chlorphenamine, Hydroxyzine and Promethazine can make you feel sleepy. It is why your GP or pharmacist would recommend you take these in the evening. Hay fever can make it difficult for you to sleep. So, with an Antihistamine that uses these ingredients, it can clear up your allergy symptoms as well as help you get a good night’s sleep.

Newer Antihistamines which use ingredients such as Cetirizine, Fexofenadine and Loratadine are less drowsy. These are ideal to be taken in the mornings.

Traditionally, these are available as pills though you can get Antihistamines in the form of nasal sprays and eye drops. Naturally, the nasal spray would be more efficient in unblocking noses and eye drops a better for relieving itchy, sore eyes.

So the form you take your Antihistamines will also be a contributing factor to how effective it is.

While these are readily available over-the-counter, your GP can prescribe stronger Antihistamines.

Are Decongestants Right for my Hay Fever?

Decongestants are a very common type of allergy medication that is easily available over the counter in the form of drops, sprays, tablets and syrups.

It is an all-in-one remedy to ease cold, flu and hay fever symptoms. This type of medicine is designed to provide quick, short term relief for blocked or congested noses. Decongestants would reduce any swelling in blood vessels in your nose, which opens up your airways. (4)

Decongestants are normally made up of:

  • Oxymetazoline
  • Phenylephrine
  • Pseudoephedrine

Oxymetazoline-based Decongestants (7) will come in the form of a nasal spray. This type of hay fever medication is designed to provide quick, temporary relief to your blocked nose and reduce swelling around the area. It should not be used regularly, only when these symptoms are quite sore and uncomfortable.

Phenylephrine-based Decongestants (8) are used to provide temporary relief to blocked noses, sinuses and ear symptoms that occur from colds, cases of flu and allergies. These tend to come in the form of capsules or flavoured powder which are then added to water to consume. Phenylephrine targets swelling around the nose or sinuses which may be caused by pollen or other allergens, reducing them for easy breathing. It is also used for other respiratory illnesses such as sinusitis or bronchitis.

Pseudoephedrine-based Decongestants (9) are designed for treating the symptoms of the common cold, flu, hay fever and respiratory illnesses. They target congestion in the nose and sinuses, reducing any swelling and opening those airways for easier breathing. While Pseudoephedrine is a medicine designed for nasal allergies, they are usually paired with other medications such as paracetamol to provide further relief for other cold and flu symptoms.

Decongestants are safe for most people to use. However, it is not advised for babies and infants under 6 years old. If you’re taking other medication, have high blood pressure or have issues with your liver, kidney, heart or circulation problems, you should not take decongestants. If you are unsure whether you should take decongestants, you should speak with your pharmacist or GP for further guidance.

At Chemist Direct, we understand how uncomfortable and sore hay fever can be to people. It is why we work with leading healthcare and pharmaceutical brands, so we can offer our customers the very best hay fever medication and remedies. Our experienced, qualified pharmacy team are dedicated to sourcing the latest hay fever treatments and assisting customers in finding the best medication for them. From allergy pills and tablets to nasal sprays and eye drops, check out our comprehensive collection of allergy and hay fever medicine today.

Before taking any allergy or hay fever medicine, read any instructions and information. If you are unsure or have liver, heart, circulatory and other health problems, please speak with a pharmacist or healthcare provider for further guidance.

This article has been medically approved by Superintendent Pharmacist Shilpa Shailen Karia, MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2087328

Article Sources:

  1. NHS
  2. Bupa
  4. Mayo Clinic
  5. Medical News Today
  6. NHS
  7. Web MD
  8. Web MD
  9. Web MD