As part of Allergy Awareness Week (28 April to 4 May 2014), we are asking people to Choose Better by visiting their pharmacist to get advice on treatments for minor allergies.
Allergy is widespread in the UK, with around 21 million adults suffering from at least one allergy at some time in their lives. The numbers are increasing every year and as many as half of those affected are children according to the charity Allergy UK.
An allergy develops when the body’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances (allergens) such as pollen, nuts, fruit, pets, mould and house dust mites. It identifies them as a ‘threat’, like an infection, and produces antibodies to fight off the allergen. Symptoms of an allergy can include sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, asthma, eczema, hay fever, coughing and skin rashes.
Professor Mayur Lakhani, a GP and Chair of West Leicestershire CCG, said: “Grass pollen is the most common allergen, which affects sufferers between May and July, however some people are affected by tree, weed and shrub pollens at different times of the year.
“Medication can't cure your allergy, but it can be used to treat common symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy mouth and sneezing. Most treatments are available over the counter, but always ask your pharmacist or GP for advice before starting to take any new medication.”