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Factsheet: Hayfever and Sinusitis - 14 October

Spring is the time when a lot of people suffer from allergies- there is more pollen and grasses around.

A common allergy is hayfever (or allergic rhinitis).  It happens when the hay is out. (ie spring and summer)

Hayfever causes itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing and sometimes a scratchy throat.

Pollen is one of the main causes, and other inhalants can cause the same sx.  Eg mould, dust mites and dust.  Hot dry windy days such as the norwester in Canterbury are the worst for putting pollen into the air.

You can get a skin prick test to see which allergens you are reacting to.  A small amount of substance is pricked into the skin on the forearm and then it is looked at in a few minutes to see if it has come up in a red lump.  If the lump is large it suggests the person is allergic to that substance.

Prevention of Hayfever

  • Stay inside in the morning and evening when pollen levels are the highest
  • Avoid mowing lawns&
  • Wash your face and hands a lot
  • Rinse your hair so the pollen does not stick to the pillow
  • Use wrap around sunglasses so the pollen does not get in your eyes
  • Avoid exposure to air pollution and tobacco smoke

1. Saline nasal sprays and washes

Use 1.5tsp salt in 500ml warm water and a pinch of baking soda.  You can spray or sniff this up you nose and clean your sinuses.  It stingy, add more water.  Use as often as you want.

2. After the saline nasal wash you can spray up your nose with a xylitol spray  (natural non steroidal) or with a steroid nasal spray  eg alanase or flixonase.

3. Antihistamine tablets are also useful.


This can be a complication of hayfever or a complication of a cold.

Usually the symptoms are green nasal discharge, fever and pain on one side of the face, sometimes going into the teeth. 

A Recent meta analysis suggests that in most cases of sinusitis, there is no difference between giving a placebo and an antibiotic.  Antibiotics may be useful for high fever or if the person is very unwell only.

Antibiotics are also associated with side effects and bacterial resistance.

Other treatments are use of the saline nasal spray and pain relief.