Allergy misdiagnosis is common in the UK, so it’s time to clear things up

Around one in four people in the UK now suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. This equates to 16 million people, compared to just one in eight during the 1980s. However, despite its common nature, detailed information about the condition remains hard to find.

Professor of the Royal Brompton allergy clinic in London, Stephen Durham, says: “Family members, GPs, even patients themselves can dismiss hay fever as just a bit of sneezing, but for about 10% of sufferers it causes abject misery.”

Misdiagnosis is also common when it comes to hay fever, says Dr Adrian Morris of the Surrey Allergy Clinic: “Many go to the GP complaining of sinus problems and end up on antibiotics, when they really have hay fever and need antihistamines and nasal spray.”

However, Durham points out that the reverse is also true, saying that there are also many people convinced that they have hay fever when in fact they are suffering from a different allergy.

What are you allergic to?

Often, it becomes easier to determine what kind of allergy you are suffering from once you determine the time of year that your allergy peaks. There are many sources of allergic reactions — which one sounds most familiar to you?

Grass: Grass pollens the majority of hay fever sufferers. The typical pollen season lasts from the first week of May to the second week of September, with a peak from the first week in June to the last week in July.

Birch: Around 25% of allergy sufferers have an allergy to birch trees. This birch season is earlier than the pollen season, lasting from mid-March to the first week in June and peaking from late March to mid-May.

Dust: Dust is a common culprit for allergy sufferers whose symptoms flare up in colder months, although symptoms can be present all year. Dust allergies tend to be worse indoors in winter due to central heating.

Mould: These allergies are the result of various common kinds of mould, such as Cladosporium and Alternaria. Mould allergy usually flares up in early autumn and late spring, and are particularly strong after rain.

Oak: Oak allergies are usually mild, though can be more severe in some cases. The allergy season lasts from the first week of April to mid-June and peaks from the end of April to early June.

Nettle: Everyone remembers nettles for their painful stinging potential, but they can also be a source of mild allergic reaction. The season lasts from the beginning of May to the end of September and peaks from the end of June to the beginning of August.

Oilseed rape: Like grass, oilseed rape allergies come about as a result of airborne pollen. This allergy season for oilseed rape is earlier than that of grass pollen allergies, lasting from the end of March to mid-June. It peaks from mid-May to the end of June.

Pets: Unlike the other allergies listed, pet allergies are not dependant on the time of year. Cats and dogs are the biggest causes of pet allergies in the UK, as our pets shed hair and skin cells which make their way into carpets, bedding and furniture.

Which medication is right for you?

If you do determine that hay fever is responsible for your allergies, there are several treatment options for you to consider.

Fexofenadine: This is a popular unbranded hay fever medication which is medically equivalent to branded options but is more cost effective. It acts as an effective non-drowsy antihistamine by preventing the release of chemicals which cause hay fever symptoms.

Mometasone: This is another popular unbranded medication for allergy relief, this time in the form of a nasal spray. It can help tackle symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion.

Telfast: Telfast is the branded equivalent of fexofenadine, acting in exactly the same way to tackle hay fever symptoms.

Nasonex: Again, Nasonex is the branded equivalent of mometasone. It works to treat seasonal hay fever and year-round allergic rhinitis.

You can find allergy relief information and medication at Express Pharmacy. Contact our team today for answers to your queries by calling 0208 123 07 03 or by using our discreet live chat service.