The springtime sniffles are back | Hayfever

September 4th, 2020

You may have noticed a large amount of pollen floating around the Hutt Valley in the last couple of weeks. For some, this means the return of all those annoying hayfever symptoms.

Hayfever, also called allergic rhinitis, causes cold-like signs and symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. But unlike a cold, hayfever isn’t caused by a virus. Hayfever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or tiny flecks of skin and saliva shed by cats, dogs, and other animals with fur or feathers.

Besides making you miserable, hayfever can affect your performance at work or school and generally interfere with your life. But you don’t have to put up with annoying symptoms. You can learn to avoid triggers and find the right treatment.


  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Fatigue

Hay fever or common cold?

Signs and symptoms can be similar, so it can be difficult to tell which one you have.

HayfeverRunny nose with thin, watery discharge – no feverImmediately after exposure to allergensAs long as you’re exposed to allergens
ColdRunny nose with watery or thick yellow discharge, low aches, feverObe to three days after exposure to a cold virusThree to seven days

Where to get help

Your first point of call for hayfever treatment is your local pharmacy. There are many over the counter medications you can try to help with your symptoms, such as:

  • antihistamines (including a non-sedating type such as Loratadine)
  • corticosteroid nasal sprays
  • decongestants (for short-term use)
  • combination products that combine these medications (eg, an antihistamine and a decongestant).

When to see your doctor

  • You can’t find relief from your hay fever symptoms
  • Allergy medications don’t provide relief or cause annoying side effects
  • You have another condition that can worsen hay fever symptoms, such as nasal polyps, asthma or frequent sinus infections