Over five million of the 13 million hay fever sufferers in Britain could be taking inappropriate medicines, putting their health at risk.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) is encouraging people experiencing the symptoms of hay fever to visit their community pharmacist after new research revealed that the public often misdiagnose the condition and fail to get the correct treatment.
Allergic rhinitis, known as hay fever, is a condition which is caused by the pollen of specific seasonal plants, airborne chemicals and dust particles. It is commonly characterised by the symptoms of sneezing, runny nose and itching eyes.
A survey, commissioned by the RPSGB, found that a staggering 73% of people who experience these symptoms fail to seek medical advice before selecting a treatment.
Moreover, the research reveals the damaging effects hay fever can have on sufferers' quality of life. The research finds that almost 40% of hay fever sufferers become irritable, and a third experience difficultly sleeping.
Worryingly, 29% have difficulty concentrating and 14% said their symptoms affected their ability to read - findings which could have significant implications for school children and students, particularly as the hay fever season clashes with exam time.
More than one in 10 said they are embarrassed about their appearance and avoid socialising, while one in 20 hay fever sufferers say they avoid leaving the home because of their condition.