Hay fever can cause symptoms such as a sore throat, itchy eyes, sneezing, and a blocked nose. People can try to avoid allergens to reduce symptoms. They may also take medications or use home remedies.
Sometimes, hay fever can cause a sore throat. A sore throat might feel dry or scratchy. It can also make it painful to swallow.
Doctors sometimes call hay fever allergic rhinitis. It is a type of allergic reaction. Allergies happen when the body’s immune system reacts to a harmless substance as if it were harmful. People with hay fever may be allergic to:
Doctors call the substance a person is allergic to an allergen.
This article explains hay fever and some of the most common symptoms. It also outlines other common causes of a sore throat and suggests home remedies and medications.
Rhinitis means inflammation of the inside of the nose. Allergic rhinitis or hay fever happens when someone has exposure to an environmental allergen.
When someone has an allergic reaction, the immune system thinks the allergen is dangerous. It responds by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause symptoms in the nose, eyes, throat, skin, and roof of the mouth.
Glands in the nose and throat are always making mucus. Usually, people swallow it without even noticing.
When someone has hay fever, the body makes too much mucus for them to swallow unconsciously. It can gather in the back of the throat or drip from the back of the nose. Doctors call this postnasal drip.
One of the symptoms of postnasal drip is a sore or irritated throat.
Common hay fever symptoms include:
- a runny nose
- itchy eyes, nose, roof of the mouth, and throat
- a blocked or stuffy nose
- dark circles under the eyes
- watery eyes
Many different things can cause a sore throat. They
- viral infections, including a common cold, flu, and COVID-19
- strep throat, which is a bacterial infection
- environmental irritants
- being exposed to second-hand smoke
According to the
- sucking on ice chips or popsicles
- using a humidifier
- using a cool mist vaporizer
- gargling with salt water
- drinking warm beverages
It is important to keep the throat moist when it is sore. Drinking plenty of fluids and sucking on hard candies or lozenges to stimulate saliva production may help.
People can also use OTC medications to help with hay fever symptoms, including a sore throat. They include:
Antihistamines are drugs that block the effects of the chemical histamine. This eases hay fever symptoms, including the postnasal drip that can lead to a sore throat.
Antihistamines are most effective if a person takes them before symptoms develop.
Some antihistamines are available OTC, and some need a doctor’s prescription. They can cause side effects, so a person should check the product label carefully or ask a doctor before taking them.
Nasal corticosteroids, such as fluticasone, mometasone, and budesonide, are the most effective treatment for allergic rhinitis. They reduce nasal inflammation causing less sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat.
Nasal antihistamines, such as azelastine and olopatadine, are topical versions of oral antihistamines and are quite effective hay fever treatments.
Saline nasal sprays can help keep nasal passages moist and reduce thick nasal mucus. A doctor may recommend douching the nasal passage, which a person can do as often as necessary.
Nasal cromolyn (Nasalcrom) stops the body from releasing allergy-causing chemicals. It prevents allergic reactions if a person takes it before exposure to an allergen.
Decongestants help relieve stuffiness and pressure in the nose but do not relieve other hay fever symptoms, such as a sore throat. They are available as tablets, syrups, and nasal sprays.
OTC pain relief medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help to ease the pain and discomfort of a sore throat.
The best way for a person to prevent hay fever symptoms, including a sore throat, is to avoid allergens. However, that is not always possible.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) suggests the following ways to avoid hay fever triggers:
- closing windows when pollen counts are high
- wearing glasses outdoors to keep pollen from the eyes
- using mite-proof bedding and vacuuming the mattress regularly
- washing hands after petting an animal
- avoiding hanging bedding or clothing outside to dry
- minimizing outdoor activities between 5–10 a.m. when pollen is at its highest
- avoiding mowing the lawn if grass causes symptoms
- avoiding raking leaves during the pollen season
Anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19 should speak with a doctor about getting a test.
The ACAAI says people with allergies such as hay fever should consult a doctor if:
- they have a lot of sinus infections or nasal congestion
- they have difficulty breathing
- they have hay fever symptoms for several months of the year
- OTC antihistamines do not work
- hay fever symptoms are interfering with everyday life
Below are answers to some common questions about hay fever and sore throat:
Is it hay fever or COVID-19?
Hay fever and COVID-19 can have
- the main symptoms of hay fever are sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes
- the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are coughing and a fever
- COVID-19 can sometimes cause joint pain, whereas hay fever does not
- COVID-19 can change a person’s sense of taste or smell, and hay fever does not
If someone is unsure whether they have hay fever or COVID-19 can take a COVID-19 test.
How long does hay fever sore throat last?
In some people, hay fever symptoms, including a sore throat, resolve after a few days.
For others, they will last for as long as the person has exposure to the allergen, which can be weeks or months.
There is no cure for hay fever, although medications and allergen immunotherapy may help.
Hay fever symptoms, including a sore throat, tend to last for a few days or weeks. They will usually go away when the allergen exposure ends.
Many people with hay fever use antihistamines to control their symptoms.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to substances such as pollens, dust mites, pet hair, and mold. It may cause sneezing, itchy eyes, and postnasal drip. Postnasal drip can cause a sore throat.
Many people use antihistamines to ease hay fever symptoms. Home remedies, such as sucking on ice chips, can also help ease a sore throat.
People can avoid exposure to common allergens by closing windows when pollen is high and wearing glasses outdoors.
If someone experiences hay fever symptoms for several months of the year or their symptoms are interfering with daily activities, they should contact a doctor.