| 6.8°C Dublin

Hayfever tops allergy list, but many self-diagnose

Almost half of people suffer from an allergy, with hayfever being the most common complaint, research suggested today.

And 51pc of women have at least one allergy compared with 37pc of men, according to the study.

Allergies appear to be on the rise, although health researchers are still investigating the exact reasons why.

Today's poll of more than 1,000 people, from market analyst Mintel, found that 44pc of people have an allergy, with 48pc of those suffering from more than one.

Those under 35 were the most likely to have an allergy (48pc) compared with 37pc of people aged between 55 and 64.

Allergy to pollen was the most common (26pc), followed by dust mites (11pc) and pets (9pc). Others included mould (4pc), rubber (2pc) and metal (1pc).

Dairy (including eggs) and fish or seafood (4pc) were the most common food allergies, while 2pc of people said they had a nut allergy.

However, just 49pc of sufferers said their allergy had been diagnosed by a doctor or nurse.

Alexandra Richmond, senior health and beauty analyst at Mintel, said almost half of the people who suffer from allergies report having more than one allergy.

And more people are doing their own research into what is causing their problem -- and deciding themselves how to deal with it.

"A lack of professional opinion may see them wrongly believing that they are allergic to a number of things when in fact they are not."

The research also found that allergy sufferers changed things in their lives to help them cope with their problem. This included keeping their home really clean (11pc) and using special bedding (11pc).

Fewer than one in 14 allergy sufferers did nothing about their allergies.

Most either used allergy remedies or avoided the things which triggered their symptoms.

However, 24pc of people said nearly everyone claims to be allergic to something nowadays.

According to Mintel, the market for over-the-counter allergy remedies has seen little value growth since 2004 -- growing by 5pc between 2004 and 2009 to £110m (€122m). It said competition from supermarkets had kept prices low.