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Dealing with hay fever

10-15% of children and 26% of adults are affected by hay fever. It can cause some very unpleasant symptoms such as sneezing, itchy nose or throat, blocked or runny nose, red/itchy/watery eyes, post nasal drip (mucus running down back of throat), cough, wheezing/asthma symptoms/tight chest, headaches, blocked sinuses, nose bleeds, blocked or itchy ears. It's often mistaken for a cold.

Hay fever is caused by airborne allergens from grasses, trees, weeds, plants and outdoor moulds. It’s usually worse between late March and September, especially when it is warm, humid, and windy. 

Easing the symptoms

Here’s some advice from our school nurses which can help to ease the symptoms:

  • Monitor pollen forecasts and stay indoors if possible when the pollen count is high. Counts are usually higher on dry warm days, as rain washes pollen from the air
  • Keep windows closed especially in the early morning and evening
  • On high pollen days shower and wash hair after arriving home and change clothing, as pollen can stay on hair, body and clothing
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen out of the eyes
  • Wear a hat with a peak or large brim to keep pollen from eyes and face
  • Apply an allergen barrier balm around the edge of the nostrils to trap/block pollens
  • When in a car, keep the windows closed and the air intake on recirculate
  • Remove pollen from pets with a damp cloth when they’ve been out
  • Avoid drying clothes outside


Medication can control the symptoms and reactions of hay fever but they are not a cure.

  • Anti-histamines block the allergic response and come in tablet, liquid or nasal form. Make sure you seek advice from a pharmacist to choose a non drowsy, age appropriate one
  • Nasal steroids reduce inflammation. Again, seek advice from pharmacist or your GP
  • Eye drops can help sore itchy eyes and are available over the counter or on prescription from your GP 

Visit Allergy UK for more information.

If you need further advice or support, please visit our School Nurse pages or contact the school nurse advice line, Mon – Fri 9am-4.30pm on 0300 365 0010

About the author

Julia Lamming is a Professional Development Lead, School Nursing