A Pharmacist has issued a warning over a 'common mistake' that millions of Brits could be making with their antihistamine medication. 

Many people will have picked up over-the-counter antihistamine medicines at one time or another to relieve themselves of irritating allergy symptoms.

Whether you suspect its hay fever, conjunctivitis, eczema or a food allergy, a Pharmacist has warned that they can affect test results.

As a result, millions of Brits could be at risk of getting an inaccurate allergy diagnosis.

44% of adults in the UK suffer from at least one allergy, and the number is always increasing, according to Kleenex and Allergy UK.

In fact, the UK has one of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions on the planet with allergies costing the NHS an estimated £900 million a year.

The news comes as Abbas Kanani, superintendent pharmacist of Chemist Click, has issued a warning.

Mr Kanani commented: "Some people may not know that they could be putting themselves at risk of an undiagnosed allergy with this common mistake".

The health expert explained that avoiding the thing you're allergic to (whenever possible) is a treatment recommended by the NHS.

However, Mr Kanani noted how challenging this can be if you are not aware of any allergies you may have.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

Possible symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • a runny nose or sneezing
  • pain or tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
  • coughing, wheezing or breathlessness
  • itchy skin or a raised rash (hives)
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling or being sick
  • swollen eyes, lips, mouth or throat

The superintendent pharmacist advised that most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally people can have a severe reaction and it's important to be aware of signs. 

What do you do for an allergic reaction?

The NHS recommends that you should call 999 if you notice any of the following:

  • your lips, mouth, throat or tongue suddenly become swollen
  • you're breathing very fast or struggling to breathe (you may become very wheezy or feel like you're choking or gasping for air)
  • your throat feels tight or you're struggling to swallow
  •  your skin, tongue or lips turn blue, grey or pale (if you have black or brown skin, this may be easier to see on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet)
  • you suddenly become very confused, drowsy or dizzy
  • someone faints and cannot be woken up
  • a child is limp, floppy or not responding like they normally do (their head may fall to the side, backwards or forwards, or they may find it difficult to lift their head or focus on your face)


If you think you may have an allergy, Mr Kanani recommends speaking to your GP.

He added: "They may arrange allergy tests or refer you to a specialist allergy clinic to have them".

When is hay fever season in the UK?

The warning comes as hay fever season starts as early as March and can last until the middle of September.

The superintendent pharmacist added: "They'll be an increase in people buying antihistamines to help with symptoms over the coming months".

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Meanwhile, the NHS said hay fever conditions are especially bad when it's warm, humid and windy.

The national health service explained that this is because this is when the pollen count is at its highest.

There isn't currently a cure for hay fever but you can consult the NHS website for tips on how to relieve some of the symptoms.