Hay fever hell for millions as pollen levels hit their highest for 12 years this week
- Pollen levels are the highest since 2006, according to the Met Office
- One expert says it is ‘more severe than average and the worst in over a decade’
- As many as a third of people – 20 million – are thought to suffer from hay fever
- Met Office and NHS have joined forces to do more research into the condition
It is bad news for hay fever sufferers this week as pollen levels are set to be at their highest since 2006.
More than 20 million people could suffer from the allergy this summer as unusually high levels of pollen continue to sweep across the UK.
In London, the east, Yorkshire and the Midlands today, the pollen count is ‘very high’ – the maximum rating given by the Met Office.
The Met Office said that the pollen levels are worse than they have been in over a decade, with the warm, dry breezy conditions ideal for wafting high levels of pollen into our noses and throats.
Grass pollen, which is the worst culprit for causing symptoms and affects 95% of sufferers, is set to reach its peak.
As many as one in three people are thought to suffer from the condition, and 41 per cent of them are affected so badly it ruins their summer, according to the Met Office.
As many as one in three people – 20 million in the UK – are thought to be affected by hay fever, and symptoms will get worse this week as pollen counts hit their peak
The NHS and Met Office have joined forces on research to identify the grass pollen types that cause the most allergies, to help sufferers manage their condition.
The Met Office warns pollen levels have been unusually high in recent weeks and are set to remain high today and through the week.
England is worst hit, particularly London, the South East, the East of England, the East Midlands and the South West.
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Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey said: ‘As I understand it the reason we have such high pollen levels this year is because we have had perfect weather for pollen so far this year.
‘It’s been lovely and warm, followed by rain, and then dry days with breezes that lift the pollen off the grass, plants and trees.
‘Pollen counts are the worst in over a decade’
‘So far this year we haven’t seen pollen counts exceeding those of some previous severe years, such as 2005 and 2006.
‘It is unlikely that this will be a record-breaking year, although it is more severe than average and the worst in over a decade.’
Record numbers of people are suffering from hay fever, with allergic rhinitis the most common form, affecting up to 30 per cent of adults and as many as 40 per cent of children.
Grass is the most common cause of hay fever in the UK and there are more than 150 species in the UK.
But 57 per cent of sufferers do not know what type of pollen affects them, meaning they are not armed with the know-how to help combat their grass allergy.
‘Hay fever seriously impacts people’s lives’
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, a fine powder which comes from plants. There is more pollen in the air in the spring and summer when plants are flowering.
The reaction usually happens when pollen comes into contact with someone’s eyes, nose, mouth or throat.
Hay fever symptoms include coughing and sneezing; a runny or blocked nose; itchy, red or watery eyes; itching throat, nose, mouth or ears; headaches and tiredness.
People suffering from the allergy can put Vaseline around their nose to trap the pollen, wear wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen out of their eyes, wash clothes regularly and vacuum and dust indoors.
Avoiding grass, cut flowers and smoke can help reduce symptoms, as can drying clothes indoors where pollen is less likely to stick to them.
Source: NHS Choices
Yolanda Clewlow, manager of the UK pollen network at the Met Office, said: ‘We know how seriously hay fever can impact people’s lives in the UK, particularly as a result of grass pollen.
‘This has led to our involvement in a dedicated research programme to identify the most significant of the 150 different species of grass pollen in the UK.
‘We aim to help inform hay fever and asthma sufferers and empower them in managing their symptoms more effectively.
‘We urge anyone that suffers from hay fever and asthma to check our pollen forecast or to download our simple-to-use mobile app to receive notifications when pollen levels are at their highest.’
41 per cent of sufferers say they have such bad hay fever it ruins their summer
A survey of 2,000 hay fever sufferers by the Met Office revealed that 41 per cent suffer so badly it ruins their whole summer.
Many are exacerbating their symptoms unnecessarily as 35 per cent say they frequently hang washing out to dry in the summer, unaware that pollen sticks to the clothes.
A further 40 per cent said they leave their windows open to cool their home in the summer, which lets pollen inside.
Caroline Gamlin, from NHS England, added: ‘There’s currently no cure for hay fever and you can’t prevent it.
‘But you can do things to help ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high.
‘You can try putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen, wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes, and stay indoors whenever possible.
‘For help in managing your symptoms, you should seek advice from your local pharmacist, who can suggest the best treatments, like antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays.’
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