Visits to GP over hay fever show 50% increase

Updated: 

The number of people seeking help from their GP for hay fever has risen 50% in the last year, new figures show.

Data from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) reveals that in the first week of June, 11,353 people visited their GP with hay fever symptoms, rising to 37,568 in the week ending June 25.

In the same week at the end of June last year, 25,097 people visited their GP with hay fever - a difference of 50%.

The data for England suggests that recent high temperatures across the country may have led to more people suffering hay fever or seeing their symptoms worsen.

Rates are at their highest for 2017 so far.

The RCGP said mid-June traditionally marks the start of the hay fever season, with children aged five to 14 usually most affected.

This is followed by people aged 15 to 24.

Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes.

Around one in 10 of all people are affected by hay fever, which is an allergy to types of pollen.

Grass pollen is the most common cause and tends to affect people every year from around May to July.

Tree pollens tend to affect people from March to May and weed pollens from early spring to early autumn. 

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the RCGP, said: "Each year, seasonal hay fever can cause untold misery to thousands of people across the country.

"The weather may have taken a turn for the worse, but we are still seeing a steep rise in allergic rhinitis presentations in our surgeries - the highest so far in 2017 and higher compared to this time last year, which was surprisingly low.

"Hay fever can be awful but the discomfort should only be temporary and there should be no long-term ill effects.

"Whilst in some cases it may be necessary to see a doctor, especially if the symptoms persist, there are many anti-histamine medications that can be bought over the counter inexpensively at your pharmacist that should provide effective relief.

"Patients that suffer from hay fever can also take simple steps to help minimise their exposure to pollen, such as wearing a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses, and applying Vaseline to nostrils to help trap pollen particles."