Hay Fever First Aid Kit
What's a hay fever first aid kit?
Many Hay Fever sufferers will tell you that nothing works, or that some remedies help, but nothing does the whole job. Or what worked last year doesn’t work this year. It is very frustrating. There is no cure for hay fever – although they are working on it, and have been for may years. One day there may be a cure, but in the meantime There are lots of different ways to help, and remedies work in several different ways.
Pharmaceutical remedies are generally based on either anti-histamines or steroid nasal sprays, whilst natural remedies are based on physical preventative measures, immune boosters or natural antihistamines.
The interesting thing about this is that many of these remedies can be complementary to each other. So if one helps, but doesn’t do the whole job, you may be able to try other remedies at the same time and get a better result. In other words, you can create your own hay fever first aid kit.
But there are rules: never take 2 anti-histamines together, never take 2 steroid nasal sprays together, and consult your pharmacist or doctor if you are already taking any other medication.
There are several different types of anti-histamine and steroid nasal spray. If one doesn’t work, you might find another one does. Most anti-histamines are based on either cetirizine or loratadine. If you check the box it will tell you which one is contained. If you have been taking one and it doesn’t work, you might find the other one will work better. And it is similar with the steroid nasal sprays.
If you look around this website you will find lots of ideas and suggestions which could help you. But perhaps one of the best bits of advice we can give you is to try using more than one remedy. We suggest that your ideal hay fever first aid kit will consist of one or more natural products, only one antihistamine, only one nasal spray and eye drops. This guide will take you through the different options and varieties of each category; Natural Products, Antihistamines, Steroid Nasal Sprays, Eye drops and Extras. Scroll down to see each category.
This guide also applies to all airborne allergens so it could help with dust and pet allergens, too!
There are a great range of natural hay fever products on the market, but here are some of our favourites:
Allergen Barrier Balm
HayMax allergen barrier balm is drug free, organic, and natural, meaning it is suitable for everyone, including children and pregnant and breast-feeding women. It works by trapping allergens from entering the body through the nose and eyes.
HayMax has been proven to trap dust allergens, pet allergens and over a third of pollen before it enters the body.
Find out more about HayMax Allergen Barrier Balms here.
Bee Prepared Immune Support is an immune boosting wellness formula. It contains only all-natural, high quality ingredients which have a history of benefits and clinically researched actions which help support the immune system. These supplements can be taken daily, or as needed and can be taken with Unbeelievable’s other supplements if desired.
Based on acupressure, the Qu-Chi band is another non-invasive, natural way to treat allergy symptoms. It uses acupressure to target key pressure points on the body associated with allergy symptoms. A band is worn on any of these pressure points, including on the elbow.
For more information about natural allergy products, see our Drug-Free and Natural Help page.
Antihistamines are a very common hay fever remedy. They come in tablet, capsule and nasal spray forms and can relieve most hay fever symptoms – sneezing, itchy, runny eyes, skin irritation, itchy nose and throat.
When we get hay fever it is because our body has reacted to the allergen and produced too many histamines. Antihistamines do exactly what it says on the box; they anti the histamine. However, histamines also help keep us alert, attentive and awake! This is why antihistamines can cause drowsiness. To address this problem, second and third generation antihistamines have been created which are non-drowsy. For many people they work well, but they can still cause drowsiness and there are other side effects too. To find out more, see our Conventional Treatments page.
Antihistamines specifically formulated for hay fever are widely available in pharmacies and online and there are plenty to choose from. They are usually in tablet form, and although many people take them when symptoms occur, they are best taken at least one month before the hay fever season starts. It’s just that lots of people never know exactly when that will be! You can also get antihistamine sprays.
Some people find that the particular antihistamine they have chosen or been prescribed stops working after a while or isn’t particularly effective to start with. If this has been your experience, don’t give up: there are many different ones available and it’s worth trying antihistamine alternatives until you find the best one for you. A lot of antihistamines you can buy over the counter (OTC), which means you can purchase them at pharmacies and drugstores without a prescription. Some antihistamines require a prescription from your GP. The more common hay fever antihistamines which are available at most pharmacies without a prescription are listed here alongside their trade name(s):
Antihistamine active ingredient
Benadryl Allergy Relief
Zirtec, Piriteze, Benadryl
Allegra, Fexidine, Telfast
Clarityn, Boots One a Day Allergy Relief
Steroid Nasal Sprays
Nasal sprays target congestion and stuffiness as well as other symptoms of hay fever because the medicine is targeted directly to the nose, which is the main entrance for allergens to enter the body. An additional benefit of this is that very little of the active ingredients get any further than the nose, reducing the chance of experiencing side effects.
Steroid nasal sprays work by fighting inflammation and mucus production, reducing the allergic reaction of your nasal tissues to the inhaled allergen. Very few side effects are associated with steroid nasal sprays.
Both types of spray need several days to build up to their maximum protective effect. Some makers advise that you start using them one month before your hay fever season begins. They depend on being applied properly, so it’s a good idea to read the instruction leaflet before you begin. You use them by inserting the spray into each nostril in turn, holding the other closed, and breathe in normally as you spray. It’s important not to sniff hard as this can deliver the spray past the nose to the throat. Some sprays leave an unpleasant taste for a short time in the back of the mouth or throat.
As with other hay fever medicines, there are many versions available. Here is a table of some of the available steroid nasal sprays with their UK trade names:
Steroid Nasal Spray
Beconase, Nasobec, Pollenase
Rhinocort Aqua, Benocort
Flixonase, Avamys and Nasofan
Do you find yourself rubbing and rubbing your eyes even though you know you shouldn’t? We know exactly what you mean. Itchy eyes are the bain of many hay fever sufferers’ lives, but help is at hand. As well as the eye drops mentioned below, simple things like rinsing your eyes with water regularly, using a cold compress or washing your eyes in an eye bath can be really helpful. A cold compress can be anything from a damp tissue placed over the eyes for a few minutes to an eyemask which you could buy and keep in the fridge. Our founder has even used damp tea bags and found them very soothing! And an eye bath can be as simple as an egg cup – but make sure it’s clean and that you used clean or boiled water. Or buy some Optrex with an eye bath in the box. Read on to find out about how eye drops can help with those infuriatingly itchy eyes.
Eye drops work in one of three ways to reduce your allergic reaction to pollen. Some stop the histamine release, some are anti-inflammatory and others block the inflammation caused by histamine. Eye drops can sting momentarily when applied, but if this is the case for you, do persevere because they can bring relief to itchy eyes and help stop watery or streaming eyes. They can be difficult to use at first, but all drops come with full instructions which you’re advised to read before starting.
Common eye drops are shown in the table below, as well as several “own brand” makes. The usual dose is one drop in each eye up to four times a day once your allergy symptoms begin, and they may take effect immediately, although some take 3 or 4 days to build up to their maximum protective effect. As with all medicines, always use as directed.
You can also buy natural eye drops which contain a herb called Euphrasia (more commonly known as Eyebright). This relieves inflammation and swelling and is thought to be a helpful allergy relief remedy. The brand A.Vogel have an Eyebright eye drops product which they say is suitable for people over the age of 12 and for contact lens wearers.
If you wear contact lenses, remember to not put eye drops in unless you do not have lenses inserted. You should also make sure that the eye drops you purchase are suitable for and compatible with contact lenses, as not all of them are. You should wait at least 15 minutes between using eye drops and inserting your lenses.
Other things that we recommend for your hay fever first aid kit are:
- Some wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunlight and pollen. As well as providing a physical barrier against the pollen getting into your eyes (don’t forget to apply HayMax around your eyes to trap the pollen, too), shades will help to de-stress your eye. When it is itchy and sore, the eye is also irritated by light, so shades help reduce the irritation. For more information on sunglasses for allergy sufferers, click here.
- A packet of tissues or a handkerchief so that you aren’t caught short sneezing in a public place.