Hay fever and flies: With caution

The spring weather that has persisted for around two months now has both negative and positive aspects for pilots, especially for those of you who suffer from hay fever. This is because the pollen load is much lower in rainy weather. But if everything looks good for a flight on a beautiful spring day, but the pollen is too bad, the temptation to reach for an antihistamine is great. After all, who wants to fly with stinging eyes, a scratchy throat or a runny nose?

But be careful: it’s not just the allergy symptoms that can be problematic, but also the hay fever medication. There are groups of substances that can occasionally have side effects such as tiredness, reduced reactivity or dizziness – all symptoms that you don’t want in the cockpit.

In any case, you should point out to your prescribing doctor or when buying over-the-counter medication at the pharmacy that your hay fever medication must not affect your fitness to fly. Here, too, you should first check your tolerance on the ground and, if in doubt, contact your aviation physician – they know best which substances are most suitable for pilots and how to proceed. They can also inform you about alternatives, such as nasal sprays with cortisone or special eye drops, both of which are only available with a doctor’s prescription.


  • Check the pollen report before your flight
  • Do not take off if you are taking antihistamines
  • If in doubt: stay on the ground and wait for better times

Links and background info:

Pollen und Allergie – Schweizer Pollendaten

Fly well: Sneezing and wheezing – avoiding allergy attacks

Pilotieren und Medikamente – EASA Easy Access Rules for Medical Requirements GM1 MED.A.020(d)(3) (Seiten 38-40): Easy Access Rules for Medical Requirements (europa.eu)

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