Pharmacies busy as hay fever season hots up

Pharmacies busy as hay fever season hots up

Pharmacies are likely to be stocking up on their hay fever medication as the Met Office warned that the peak season for the condition is approaching.

Very high pollen counts have been recorded in the south of England and parts of Wales this week, with other parts of the country set to be affected as the summer progresses in more northern regions.

So far, hay fever sufferers have only been affected by tree pollen, but the weeks surrounding the summer solstice mean grass pollen begins to dominate - and this can even give symptoms to those who do not usually have the allergy.

Furthermore, the Met Office said that the prevailing weather conditions so far in the UK have meant pollen is remaining in the air, rather than being dispersed or weighed down. Indeed, many regions have been significantly drier than usual, meaning there has been no water to wash allergens down to the ground.

There has also been less wind to blow pollen away and stop it causing problems such as sneezing, itchy eyes and difficulty breathing.

Grass pollen season begins in May in some locations and lasts as long as September, but the peak is in the two months between May and July, depending on where sufferers live and when different species of grass bloom.

Health experts have advised anyone suffering more than usual to seek advice from their pharmacist rather than visiting a GP, as they will be able to issue eye drops and antihistamine medication that should relieve symptoms.

Indeed, this may be pertinent after NHS data obtained by the MoneySavingExpert website showed thousands of hay fever sufferers may be overpaying for their medication by getting it in on prescription as opposed to over the counter.

Patients in England paid for more than 180,000 prescriptions for the three main hay fever remedies last year and in 2016, with each one costing a minimum of £8.20.

However, non-branded, over-the-counter medicines with the same active ingredients were found to cost as little as £1.99 with no prescription necessary.

A statement from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said: "We advise that most people with hay fever, who require antihistamines, should be buying them from a community pharmacy."