DOCTORS have reported a ‘huge spike’ in the number of patients seeking treatments for hayfever in East Lancashire.

The increase mirrors a national trend, which has seen a five-fold increase in the number of people seeing their GP for hayfever symptoms or allergic rhinitis, compared to the previous two weeks, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Although the college did not publish local figures, doctors and pharmacists said many more people in East Lancashire have been suffering than usual.

Helen Hughes, a pharmacist at St Peter’s Health Centre in Burnley, said: “It been particularly bad over the last few days and we’ve been dispensing a great number of anti-histamines, nasal sprays and eye drops.

“The pollen count has been very high.”

Dr Paul Fourie, of Witton Medical Centre in Blackburn, said: “You can only put it down to the warm and dry start to the summer. We are still advising people to ask the chemist for advice as a lot of anti-histamines are available over the counter, as are eye drops and nasal sprays.”

Mid-June traditionally marks the start of the hayfever season as pollen is released into the air.

Maureen Baker, RCGP chairman, said: “While 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 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.”

Caused by an allergy to pollens, hayfever is estimated to affect about two in 10 people in the UK.