High pollen counts over weekend as shortage of hay fever medication continues

Met Éireann has warned there will be a high pollen count over the weekend as pharmacies continue to experience a shortage of hay fever medication.

he pollen count for Saturday shows a high risk of tree pollen in Leinster and Connacht before a high risk warning for the entire country on Sunday.

The pollen count will remain high in Leinster for Monday but reduce to moderate or low elsewhere.

This will not be good news for those who suffer from hay fever as there is a shortage of one of the most popular antihistamines in the country.

Hay fever leaves hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland with symptoms from late March to September every year.

A spokeswoman for the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) said one of the most commonly used hay fever medicines – Piriton 4mg tablets – is in short supply.

Mid-May regularly sees hay fever sufferers affected by symptoms such as streaming eyes, blocked nose and sneezing due to pollen being released by trees and grass.

The supply of the medicine is due to resume on May 16 and there are alternatives still available for the treatment of hay fever, the spokeswoman said.

“As the weather turns warmer and more settled over the next few days, the tree pollen risk will be moderate to high, however, where showers do occur the risk will be reduced to low,” a Met Éireann forecaster said.

“Oak pollen is the main pollen type airborne along with small amounts of birch and grass.”

The grass pollen season is just starting with a few early-flowering grass types now airborne, “possibly triggering a sneeze or two in some people on warm, sunny days,” the forecaster said.

There has been a widespread shortage of chlorphenamine maleate, the active ingredient in Piriton and other hay fever medicines.

The shortage comes against a background of intermittent supply issues with some paracetamol-containing tablets.

A HPRA spokeswoman said the resupply of these medicines is expected this week, with one supplier anticipating the shortage of its products to continue until June.

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