IF you’ve noticed your eyes and nose are running more than usual today then you’re probably not alone.
Pollen levels have soared to “very high” in parts of the country, bringing misery to millions of hay fever sufferers.
3 The Met Office pollen forecast for the next three days shows varying levels across the country
3 Pollen levels will peak for most of England on Saturday causing misery for millions of hay fever sufferers
And the bad news is the worst is yet to come – as forecasters predict levels will continue to rise this week before peaking on Saturday.
Experts warn that a combination of hot temperatures and torrential downpours is to blame for the pollen bomb, which could be life-threatening for those with asthma.
Medics warn that high levels of pollen in the air can “inflame” the airways and spark a potentially fatal attack.
Stormy weather can make it worse as it breaks the pollen into much smaller particles, which are then inhaled more deeply into the lungsDr Andy WhittamoreAsthma UK
Dr Andy Whittamore, GP and Clinical Lead at Asthma UK, previously told The Sun: “When pollen is in the air it can inflame people’s airways, triggering asthma symptoms.
“Stormy weather can make it worse as it breaks the pollen into much smaller particles, which are then inhaled more deeply into the lungs.
“If you have asthma and are already noticing more symptoms because of hay fever, such as coughing, a tight chest or breathlessness, make sure you keep your blue reliever inhaler with you at all times.”
Dr Whittamore advises taking hay fever medicines and using the preventer inhaler – usually brown – as prescribed.
One million new sufferers
Experts predict a million new people will develop an allergy to pollen this summer.
An estimated 26 per cent of adults in the UK reported suffering from hay fever in 2017, according to research.
Last year that figure increased to 31 per cent with a million new people buying hay fever medicines and remedies for the first time.
The rise is believed to be due to changes in our climate as weather conditions become more extreme clearly defined seasons are blurred.
Experts say a long winter followed by a short spring condensed the flowering season of trees and shrubs into a much shorter time period.
They say this causes a so-called “pollen bomb” as plants burst into life at the same time.
The concentration of many different types of pollen – which ordinarily would have occurred sequentially over a longer time – is thought to have triggered allergic reactions in people who had never suffered with hay fever before.
This also causes more severe symptoms in people with long standing hay fever.
How to deal with hay fever
Specsavers clinical spokesperson, Dr Nigel Best says: “Hay fever sufferers who wear contact lenses may notice the vision through their lenses can appear smeary and eyes can generally feel uncomfortable.
“However, there are some things contact lens wearers can try to help reduce the irritation.
Use drops or ditch the contact lenses
“Contact lens-friendly eye drops can help to calm down any itchiness and wearing prescription glasses (particularly wraparound sunglasses) can prevent pollen from getting into your eyes.
“Those suffering with hay fever could also try daily disposable lenses during the summer months.”
Dr Best also recommends: ‘While it’s not always possible, staying inside when pollen count is high will help to avoid irritation or showering and changing your clothes when you get home will also help to remove pollen from skin and hair.’
But, it is not just eyes which are affected, hay fever can also cause your ears to become itchy or inflamed.
Specsavers’ chief audiologist Gordon Harrison says: “Allergic reactions can cause the outer ear to itch or swell.
“The middle ear contains the Eustachian tube, which acts as a drainage tube, but when mucus clogs the middle ear it affects that drainage. This leads to a build-up in pressure, which can cause discomfort, popping in the ears or earache.
“To avoid irritation, try putting Vaseline around the nose to trap pollen, vacuum and dust regularly or you can try over the counter pain relief.
Shower and change clothes often
Showering and changing after being outside will help remove pollen and antihistamines decongestants can help relieve symptoms.
Peak grass season
It comes as we hit peak grass season in the UK, while other pollen sources such as nettle and dock come into season too.
In Britain, it’s thought that more than 10 million people suffer with hay fever – and it affects around 80 per cent of people with asthma.
Grass pollen is the most common allergy and affects 90 per cent of people with hay fever, according to Allergy UK.
The season runs from mid-May until July, with two peaks – usually the first two weeks of June and the first two weeks of July.
But this can vary depending on where you are in the country and how the weather has been during spring and early summer.
1 in 5 get hay fever
According to the NHS, hay fever will affect up to one in five people at some point in their life.
You can get hay fever at any age, although it usually begins in childhood or during the teenage years.
It’s more common in boys than girls though in adults, men and women are equally affected.
Those with a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema, are more likely to develop hay fever.
A spokesperson from Allergy UK said: “It is possible at any point in life to develop an allergy to something previously tolerated.”
And you might think that living in the countryside get it worse, but research has revealed that towns and cities have twice as many hay fever sufferers.
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Experts say that in built-up areas dust clouds form and combine with traffic pollution while the sun’s rays trap grass, trees and weed pollen closer to the ground.
A Hay Fever health report, published in 2010, predicts that the number of people suffering with hay fever will triple by 2030.
It’s believed to be down to an increasing number of people moving into cities where pollution irritates people’s airways and exacerbates their symptoms.
3 This chart shows the different types of pollen and when they peak throughout the year
What is a pollen bomb, how has UK weather created it and does it make hay fever symptoms worse?
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