Between 2001 and 2005, people being diagnosed with allergic rhinitis have risen by a third. Allergic rhinitis includes pollen allergies, allergies to animal fur and dust mite allergies.
The increase in diagnoses is down to genuine increase in the condition plus doctor awareness but the actual figure may be much higher due to many people self-treating or finding alternative medicine and complementary therapies without consulting their GP.
Researchers used a database of over nine million patients to find trends in diagnosing allergies. There was also a 45% increase in antihistamine prescriptions which raises concerns about whether allergy sufferers were receiving the right treatment when nasal steroids or other treatments may be more appropriate.
"The increases are quite marked over a relatively short period of time," said Professor Sheikh, a primary care researcher at Edinburgh University.
"We know that in people with allergic rhinitis there's a significant impairment in quality of life and getting the right treatment is important."
"There's still under-diagnosis of this problem so there needs to be more clinician awareness and the majority of patients are put on an antihistamine which isn't the most effective treatment."