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Hay fever rates smash records

Over 45,000 people presented to GP practices in the first fortnight of June

Mark Gould

Monday, 18 June 2018

Hay fever cases in England have reached their highest level so far this year, with more than 45,000 people visiting GPs with symptoms according to the latest weekly figures from the Royal College of General Practitioners' Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC).

The RSC revealed there were 45,355 cases of hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, presented to GP practices between 4 June-10 June 2018, 76.7 presentations per 100,000 population - up from 19.8/100,000 the previous week when there were only 11,708 cases.

The RSC says this is "significantly above" the five-year average for cases in general practice.

According to the Met Office, the peak corresponds to the peak in grass pollen production across England and Wales. It says a second, lower peak occurs in the first two weeks of July, after which things tail off slowly. These peaks may be masked by how wet, dry, warm or cold it is, and the timing of the peaks very much depends on the weather during spring and early summer.

Responding to the figures, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Hay fever rates are exceptionally high right now – certainly the worst we’ve seen in recent years with the latest data from our Research and Surveillance Centre showing that it is significantly above the five-year average for cases in general practice.

"In fact, more than 45,000 people visited their GP with hay fever symptoms last week in England.

"For the estimated one in five people who suffer from hay fever, the symptoms, which include sneezing, coughing, and streaming eyes and nose, can be really distressing but the discomfort of symptoms should only be temporary and cause no long-term ill effects.

"Patients suffering from hay fever can take some simple practical steps to reduce their exposure to pollen, for example by wearing a hat with a wide brim, putting a small amount of Vaseline on their nostrils to trap pollen particles, and keeping windows and doors shut as much as possible.

"Most cases of hay fever can be treated with over-the-counter medicine, such as antihistamines or nasal sprays."

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