Warm weather causes huge spike in hay fever cases

hay feverThe gloriously warm weather being experienced around the majority of the UK is great news for many. The umbrellas can be put away – albeit maybe only temporarily – and the BBQs can be brought out! Simply put, the summertime can be a wonderful time of the year for millions.

But what about those silent sufferers, the other millions of people around Britain with hay fever. Warm weather can be insufferable for the estimated 15 million Brits who are battling with repeated sneezing, runny or blocked noses, and red, itchy, watery eyes.

If there was any doubt regarding the strong association between warm weather and hay fever symptoms, that has been quashed this week upon the news that there are soaring numbers of patients in England and Wales who are seeing their GP regarding the condition.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) collected information from the second week of June that showed 11,873 people in England and Wales had to see their GP due to hay fever-type symptoms. This was an incredible 114% higher than those 5,560 who did so during the same week in 2013.

The current particularly high and brutal pollen season is expected to last until the middle of July at least, causing further suffering.

According to the RCGP, those most affected were children aged between five and 14, followed by 15 to 24-year-olds.

However, experts are already warning that hay fever could afflict many more thousands of older people, including those who have never experienced it previously. It is now fairly common for people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even older, to be suffering with symptoms for the first time, triggered by factors such as stress, pollution and moving house.

Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, described how sufferers may limit the impact of hay fever.

She said: “Each year, seasonal hay fever causes untold misery to thousands of people across the country, especially when we all want to enjoy the warm weather. Hay fever is awful but the discomfort should only be temporary and there should be no long-term 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 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.”

Anyone attending any of the major music events of the summer, such as Glastonbury, Wireless and the V Festival, are also being warned with these occurring in areas of high pollen hot spots.

For those festival lovers with hay fever wishing to stay clear of the hazardous areas, it might be advised to instead head to T in the Park, Bestival, or Festival No 6.

Dr Steve Iley, medical director of AXA PPP healthcare’s Health Services division, said: “Summer can be a miserable time for hay fever suffers and, for festival-goers, suffering from a runny nose and itchy eyes can really put a damper on the day.

“Festival-goers with a history of hay fever should see their GP or pharmacist before they head off to the festival to ensure they’ve got the right medication to hand.”

“In many cases, an anti-inflammatory steroid or sodium cromoglicate nose spray, starting before symptoms begin and taken regularly, along with daily eye drops and antihistamine tablets, should suffice to keep hay fever at bay.”

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