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16 May 2011, 12:35 | Updated: 16 May 2011, 12:37
Sales of hayfever treatments have gone up 40% during some of the driest spring weather in Britain for around 40 years.
Extra supplies have been ordered at Tesco pharmacies as demand for remedies has risen sharply among the more than 10 million hayfever sufferers in Britain. Milton Keynes and Northampton are among the places in the UK where demand is greatest.
Since the beginning of March, the supermarket's pharmacies have recorded a 40% increase in sales of hayfever sprays and medicines compared to the same period last year.
Tesco pharmacy spokeswoman Joy Wickham said: "This is the earliest start to the hayfever season we have seen for a long time and it has meant that we have had to order in extra supplies in order to cope with the unexpected demand.
"Normally we wouldn't start seeing demand grow until around the end of May.''
Strong breezes coupled with recent long dry spells which have encouraged bees to make more pollen has made this year particularly bad for sufferers.
Hayfever affects the nose, sinuses, throat and eyes, causing sneezes, runny noses and itchy eyes, and is more likely if there is a family history of allergies.
It cannot be cured completely but treatments to relieve symptoms include antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops.
Here is a list of the top 20 towns and cities in the UK with the highest demand for hayfever treatments, according to Tesco:
1. Gillingham, Kent
2. Basildon, Essex
3. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
4. Romford, Essex
5. Ashford, Kent
6. Worcester, Worcestershire
7. Colchester, Essex
8. Maidstone, Kent
9. Stowmarket, Suffolk
10. Windsor, Berkshire
11. Northampton, Northamptonshire
12. Whitstable, Kent
13. Clacton-on-sea, Essex
14. Montrose, Scotland
15. Dover, Kent
16. Reading, Berkshire
17. Great Dunmow, Essex
18. Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
19. Bournemouth, Dorset