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Hayfever & Allergy Treatment Plan

Allergic rhinitis facts:

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is a medical condition caused by allergy to substances breathed in the air.

Most people with allergic rhinitis are allergic to house dust mites, pollen, pets, moulds, or a combination of these. Allergic rhinitis is sometimes called ‘hay fever’ when it occurs during the times of year when there are a lot of pollens in the air.

The allergic reaction makes the inside of the nose irritated, swollen and abnormally sensitive (inflamed). It also affects the back of the mouth and the throat. A person with rhinitis may have a blocked or runny nose, and may experience itching or soreness in the nose, throat, and eyes.
Allergic rhinitis can also disturb sleep and cause problems with concentration at work or school.

Approximately 19% of Australians (almost one in 5) have allergic rhinitis. At least three out of four people with asthma also have allergic rhinitis. 

Asthma and allergic rhinitis are related health conditions. People with allergic rhinitis have a higher chance of going on to develop asthma than people without allergic rhinitis.

Allergic rhinitis symptoms:

You don't have to have all these symptoms to have allergic rhinitis:

  • Itchy, runny or blocked nose

  • Itchy or watery eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Always feeling like you have a head cold

  • Frequent sore throats

  • Hoarse voice
    Breathing through the mouth

  • Snoring

  • Facial pain or pressure

  • Frequent headaches

  • Repeatedly getting middle ear infections

  • Constantly coughing to clear the throat or soon after lying down to sleep

  • Bad breath
    Sleeping badly or being tired during the day

  • Breathing problems even when your asthma is well controlled

What is the best treatment for allergic rhinitis?


Corticosteroid nasal sprays

Nasal sprays that contain medicines that reduce inflammation in the lining of the nose (corticosteroids) are the most effective treatment for allergic rhinitis.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays are effective for controlling itching and sneezing, runny nose, blocked nose, and eye symptoms (itching or wateriness). Most people with allergic rhinitis will benefit from using these medicines.

Some corticosteroid nasal sprays are available from pharmacies without a prescription. Stronger versions are also available on prescription. Your doctor can advise which is best for you.

For best results, these medications should be taken regularly and long term, just like preventers for asthma.
Corticosteroid nasal sprays for allergic rhinitis have a good safety record in people of all ages, including children.
It can take up to 2 weeks for the medicine to become fully effective. Your doctor or Chemist King pharmacist may suggest that you also use another medicine for a short time to relieve your symptoms quicker.

People who experience allergic rhinitis symptoms throughout the year may need to continue treatment indefinitely. Most people with allergic rhinitis will need to continue treatment for at least several months at a time.

Getting the most from your nasal spray:

If you take any type of nasal spray, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow the directions to make sure you get the most benefit. Ask your Chemist King pharmacist or doctor to explain anything you don’t understand.


​What to do:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

  • Shake the bottle before each use.

  • Clear any mucus from your nose by blowing gently, or use a saline rinse or spray then wait 10 minutes before using your medication spray.

  • Lean your head forward and put the nozzle into your nostril gently, without pushing it in hard.

  • Point the spray bottle away from the wall that divides your nostrils (septum). At the same time, point it inwards towards the moist part of the inside of your nose.

  • Spray once into your nostril, then repeat the steps for your other nostril.

  • After using the spray, wipe the tip with a dry tissue, and put the cap back on.


  • Tilt your head back while spraying

  • Push the nozzle too hard or far into your nose (you could damage your septum or cause bleeding)

  • Blow your nose hard after spraying (the medicine is lost)

  • Sniff hard after spraying (the medicine ends up in your throat instead of your nose)

  • Use a saline rinse straight after using the medicine. If you use saline, use it before your other medicines, and wait at least half an hour before using saline again. 

Other medicines:

​Antihistamine nasal sprays:

(Available over the counter at Chemist King) can provide quick relief of itching and sneezing, and may help with blocked nose. They can be used in addition to a corticosteroid nasal spray.

​Antihistamine tablets:

(Available over the counter at Chemist King) are effective for controlling itching and sneezing, but they are less effective for clearing a blocked nose. Avoid the older type of antihistamines that cause sleepiness. Some people with mild allergic rhinitis just use these medicines. Others use them in combination with corticosteroid nasal sprays when they need extra control.


For example, someone who is allergic to pollens may take antihistamine tablets during springtime. Someone who is allergic to pets may take them before visiting a friend’s house where there are pets.

Decongestant nasal sprays and decongestant tablets:

are used to unblock the nose. These should never be taken for more than a few days at a time. Your doctor or Chemist King pharmacist may suggest other medicines.


Other things you can do:

Saline rinses:

Your doctor and Chemist King Pharmacists may recommend that you use a salt water (saline) solution daily to help clear your nose and soothe the lining of the nose. Syringes and rinse bottles are available from Chemist King pharmacies.

Avoid smoke:

People with allergic rhinitis should not smoke and should avoid other people’s cigarette smoke. Smoking makes asthma and rhinitis worse, and can prevent medicines from working properly. Bushfires and wood smoke may also worsen allergic rhinitis and asthma.

Avoid allergens:

Your doctor Chemist King Pharmacists can help you work out which allergens trigger your allergic rhinitis and asthma. Try to avoid your allergy triggers if you can. 

If medication does not clear a badly blocked nose, doctors may occasionally recommend a surgical operation called turbinate reduction. Surgery is not a cure for rhinitis, but may help with symptoms in severe cases.

Before taking any medication for allergic rhinitis, you should tell your doctor or Chemist King pharmacist if:

  • You have any other medical conditions or are pregnant

  • You are taking any other medicines (including over-the-counter medicines or complementary medicines)

  • You have been experiencing nose bleeds.

I’m pregnant – can I take allergic rhinitis medicines?

If your allergic rhinitis is troublesome, or if effective treatment for your allergic rhinitis helps control your asthma symptoms, your doctor might recommend that you take medicine while you are pregnant.

If you discover that you are pregnant while using medicines for allergic rhinitis, tell your doctor straight away.

Some corticosteroid nasal sprays have a good safety rating during pregnancy. Most allergic rhinitis medicines have no particular safety concerns for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Talk to your Chemist King pharmacist or doctor before taking any medicines when you are pregnant.


How is allergic rhinitis treated in children?

Some corticosteroid nasal sprays can be used in children as young as 2 years.

Antihistamine tablets can be used for children with mild allergic rhinitis or young children who will not tolerate nasal sprays. Some can be taken by children as young as 12 months. Only newer antihistamines, which cause less sleepiness, should be given to children.

Montelukast tablets are effective for some children.

Your doctor or Chemist King Pharmacist may recommend other medicines.


After you have begun any allergic rhinitis treatment, tell your doctor so that your allergic rhinitis can be checked whenever you have a check-up.

You may need to visit a specialist or doctor with expertise in allergy if:

  • Your symptoms are severe or are not getting better with treatment

  • You think you may have to change jobs or move house to improve your allergic rhinitis

  • The diagnosis is not certain.

More information

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