Sales of hayfever treatments have risen by 40% as Britain has basked in some of the driest spring-time conditions 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.

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.

Demand is particularly strong in Kent and Essex, with the counties having five towns each in a league of the UK's top 20 areas for buying the most treatments.

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.