GPs inundated as hay fever spike triggers almost 40,000 visits in June

Cases of patients visiting their GP with hay fever-like symptoms are up 50% compared to this time last year, figures from the RCGP's research and surveillance centre show.

Over 37,600 patients have visited their GP for hay fever over the month of June 2017, equivalent to 67 consultations per 100,000 patients, the RCGP has said.

The ‘huge spike’ in cases comes after presentations for hay fever were surprisingly low last year, the RCGP said. By the same point in 2016, just over 25,000 people had visited their GP for the same symptoms.

The RCGP said while it was sometimes necessary to see a doctor, many patients could get relief from symptoms through over-the-counter medicines.

Hay fever is estimated to affect around one in 10 people in the UK, and can cause inflammation in the nose, eyes and throat.

Mid-June traditionally marks the start of the season, with rates currently at the highest seen for the year yet – with experts warning the month’s high temperatures could have caused levels to rise.

Hay fever rise

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard 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 to applying Vaseline to nostrils to help trap pollen particles.’

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