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Hay Fever

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Hay fever is a condition with a head cold, sneezing and a stuffy nose often accompanied by itching of the eyes, red eyes and lacrimation. The cause of hay fever can be pollen allergy, animal hair, house-dust mites, mould fungus or foodstuffs. You doctor can determine what you are allergic to. There is an effective medication for hay fever than can be bought over counter at a pharmacy. If this medication is not effective enough, your doctor can help you.

Hay fever is most common with the 20 to 30 year olds. Studies have shown that the illness slowly reduces in strength until the age of 40 to 50 years where it often disappears entirely.

The cause of hay fever may be allergy. Frequently, it is allergy to pollen, animal hair, house-dust mites, mould fungus and foodstuff. Pollen of trees, grass and plants are withheld in the nose and if you are allergic to pollen, you will have hay fever. in the same way, animal hair, mould fungus or house-dust mites are withheld in the nose and if you are allergic to those, you will have hay fever. The most frequent foodstuffs that can cause hay fever are nuts, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Hay fever caused by pollen allergy appears in certain periods. In the spring, especially birch is a bother, in the summer it is grass and in the autumn it is mugwort. Those who are allergic to house-dust mites are bothered all the year round but especially during the winter because the home is not aired as well.

Typical for hay fever is sudden itching in the eyes and nose and to some extent in the palate. Itching in the eyes lead to rubbing and thereby red eyes and further irritation. Itching in the nose results in sneezing with up to 25 sneezes immediately following each other. At the same time, the nose and the eyes runs with a thin liquid and you have a stuffy nose. If the condition lasts for a longer time without treatment, headache may arise and difficulties with concentrating.

Consider hay fever in the case of:

  • Prolonged common cold with head cold and many sneezesItching in the nose and the palate
  • Red, itchy eyes that are watery
  • Prolonged headache

Click to read about how to assess the sick.


There are several different kinds of medication for hay fever. The medication can be taken as a local treatment like eye drops or nasal spray – depending on where you are bothered most, the eyes or the nose. The medication can also be taken as a systematic treatment – which means as tablets or a mixture. The medication is effective and can be bought over the counter. It is a good idea to seek advice about the medication, at the pharmacy.

What can you do?

Most cases of hay fever, you can treat yourself by 1) avoiding what you are allergic to 2) take medication and 3) avoid irritation of eyes and nose.

  1. It is important to avoid what you are allergic to. Indoors, the number of pollen is reduced by keeping doors and windows closed in the evening and early in the morning, when the amount of pollen is highest. Birch trees in the garden can be cut down. If you are allergic to grass, someone else should cut the grass. If you are allergic to house-dust mites, the humidity indoors should be less than 45%. The temperature in the bedroom should be kept below 21 degrees and the room should be aired well. Contact with dog and cat should be avoided if you are allergic to animals.
  2. Get advice about remedies against hay fever at the pharmacy.
  3. You should avoid tobcacco, smoke, strong scents and dust since it worsens you hay fever.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If you are uncertain whether you have hay fever. If you want to know what you are allergic to. Your doctor can perform allergy test (skin prick test or blood sample), where the doctor examines what you are allergic to. If you in spite of your own treatment with allergy medication are still bothered. In that case, your doctor can prescribe corticosteroid tablets. In the case of severe, prolonged nuisances in spite of treatment, vaccination for hay fever may be an option.

Contact the doctor immediately

If you have trouble breathing.