HAY fever tablets are running low while pollen levels soar.

Ahead of the summer sniffles, a key ingredient found in popular antihistamines is in short supply.

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Hay fever sufferers may struggle to get their usual medicationCredit: Alamy

Chlorphenamine maleate is the active ingredient that helps to relieve the itchy eyes and runny noses of millions of hay fever sufferers.

It’s also relied on by people with eczema, hives caused by food allergies and insect bites, according to the NHS.

Chlorphenamine maleate is found in hay fever remedies including Piriton, Allercalm, Allerief, Hayleve and Pollenase.

It’s also found in pharmacy-branded hay fever medication.

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Boots have reported a shortage of this vital ingredient across the industry, the Telegraph reported.

A spokesman told the paper: “There are a very small number of lines that are currently out of stock due to a current, industry-wide shortage of the active ingredient chlorphenamine maleate.

“However, we are expecting this to be resolved soon and new deliveries are expected in the coming weeks.”

Piriton, relied on by swathes of people who struggle with hay fever, is out of stock online on Boots, Superdrug and Lloyds Pharmacy.

Chlorphenamine is considered an “older” type of antihistamine, according to Patient Access.

Although it works well, it can make people drowsy.

It may be useful for those whose hay fever keeps them awake at night, but is not recommended for those who drive for work, for example.

There are several newer antihistamines that do not have a sleepy effect, including loratadine, cetirizine, fexofenadine and acrivastine.

These do not appear to be affected by the shortages, while other options for the seasonal condition include eye drops and nasal sprays.

Pollen of bombs

It comes as the pollen levels peak across England and Wales today.

The Met Office estimates pollen levels will subside over much of the weak but reach high across most of the UK this Friday.

At the moment, tree pollen is in abundance – which a quarter of people with hay fever are allergic to.

However, grass pollen starts to pick up in mid-May, reaching peak levels in June and July. The majority of people with hay fever are allergic to this type.

Sarah Kent, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “Pollen levels will be high across much of the UK on Monday and Tuesday.

“At the moment it’s predominantly tree pollen, [but] grass season is just starting.

“You may start noticing symptoms more if you’re sensitive to grass pollen.”

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For most hay fever sufferers, symptoms are worse around midday when pollen levels peak.

So taking a once-a-day anti-allergy tablet first thing in the morning will give better protection.

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