How do allergies impact Brits’ day-to-day lives?

With 26% of the UK adult population suffering from respiratory allergies,1 it’s no surprise symptoms can get in the way of their daily lives.

As allergy season is in full swing, we wanted to shine a light on how symptoms impact the daily lives of allergy fighters in the UK, from work to social life, while also delving into social attitudes towards allergies. That's why we polled 1000 UK adults aged 18 and over who are allergic to pollen, pets, dust or mould. The results are surprising, with a staggering 1 in 3 saying their symptoms affect their daily routine most weeks and 43% of Brits declaring they had to avoid going to a social event because of their allergy.

How often do allergy symptoms affect daily activities?

The first question we asked was how often allergy symptoms affect daily activities. 1 in 3 of the surveyed said they were affected most weeks, revealing that allergies are more than a seasonal or occasional occurrence. A quarter of respondents were affected ‘most months’ and a third were affected a ‘few times a year’. Only 5% reported ‘hardly ever’ experiencing symptoms. 

The most common symptoms in the sample (80%) were runny nose, sore throat and watering eyes. However, a striking 1 in 10 reported experiencing more serious conditions, such as difficulty breathing or even hospitalisation. Additionally, 8% reported falling as a symptom potentially linked to their allergies. But it cannot be confirmed if these serious symptoms are related to their respiratory allergies alone. 

It’s also remarkable that more than 1 in 10 of the surveyed revealed they suffer regularly from incontinence when sneezing, though this could also likely be due to other conditions not related to allergy.

preparing for an allergy test

How do allergy symptoms step into day-to-day life?

Given the wide range of symptoms, we wanted to investigate their effect on allergy fighters’ social and personal lives. When asked what they had to give up on because of an allergy, 43% declared they avoided going to a social event, over 1 in 4 had to stop engaging in sports activities and 13% couldn’t attend a course, college or university class. It also emerged that 35% of people aged 25-34 had to take time off work due to their allergies — a much higher percentage than those aged 45-54, where it's less than 1 in 3.

When you consider the frequency of symptoms reported above, it’s clear that allergies can have a significant impact on people’s lives. They can seriously affect social interactions at work and with friends and family.

What’s the most embarrassing place to have an allergic reaction?

Allergic reactions can happen anytime, anywhere and there should be no embarrassment when they manifest, both in private and in public. However, some settings can feel more difficult than others, so that’s why we investigated what Brits think is the most embarrassing place to sneeze. 43% of the surveyed said that sneezing in a romantic setting, like the first date, would be the worst scenario, followed by 1 in 3 declaring they would rather not sneeze in a social setting like the cinema or the theatre.

It’s also notable that 29% of young allergy sufferers, aged 18-24, said they’d feel embarrassed about sneezing in a work setting, such as a departmental meeting. This doesn't seem to bother the older generation as much, with only 17% of the 45-54 saying that. 

Only 7% of the population would feel uncomfortable about sneezing in a fitness setting like the gym or the swimming pool.

preparing for an allergy test

The impact of allergy symptoms on others

Some allergic reactions like sneezing don’t only impact allergy fighters but can also affect people around them. When questioned about where people would feel most uncomfortable with someone sneezing nearby, confined spaces were the top choice.

Almost half of the respondents (45%) declared a lift full of people would be the most uncomfortable setting, followed closely by public transport at 34%. The latter seems to especially bother the younger generations, aged 18-24, at 41%. Other occasions include people sitting behind them at the cinema and colleagues seated at a nearby desk.

preparing for an allergy test

How do allergy fighters relieve symptoms?

Finally, we investigated what allergy fighters do to relieve their symptoms other than taking medication. The most popular response (52%) was keeping the house clean by hoovering, dusting, and cleaning cobwebs regularly.

37% declared they avoid going to parks and public spaces, showing that many people still prefer giving up certain activities to protect themselves from allergic reactions. 1 in 3 people surveyed also reported they don’t keep plants or flowers at home.

For those that feel held back by allergies, taking an antihistamine like Allevia® 120mg tablets could help to relieve multiple symptoms such as sneezing, itching, runny, blocked nose, itchy, red and watery eyes and provide long-lasting relief. Antihistamines could be incorporated into a regular routine during pollen season to help keep allergies at bay.

The bottom line

As highlighted by these results, allergy symptoms are more than a seasonal issue and they can affect allergy fighters’ lives quite significantly. From avoiding social events to altering daily activities, allergies pose a constant challenge for many. As we move forward, it’s vital to raise awareness for these issues and ensure better support and accommodations for those affected by allergies in their daily lives.


Interviews carried out by research company 3GEM from 15th to 19th April 2024.

Sample size: 1,000 (people who said are either allergic to pollen, pet, dust or mould).

Age range: adults aged 18 (split into six different age groups 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+).

Nationally UK representative.


1. Allergy UK Statistics & Figures, Available online: Last accessed November 2023

MAT-XU-2401657 (V1.0) May 2024

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