Allergy experts and weather forecasters say hay fever season has arrived three weeks early thanks to the winter heatwave.
The cherry blossoms flowering prettily around the country may well be delighting Instagrammers.
But their pink and white petals were an early clue to start packing tissues for the wretched seasonal allergy sufferers among us.
The one-in-five Brits prone to the itchy eyes and runny noses characteristic of Seasonal Rhinitis are sneezing a full three weeks earlier than usual, according to the experts.
And we can thank the warmer than usual weather for the phenomenon, according to the experts.
“Although the season has started with a flourish, each species of plant has a particular window when its pollen is most abundant.
“In the UK, trees begin the pollen season from late winter with grass pollen taking over in May and then weed pollen becomes more dominant later in the year.
“Not all sufferers are allergic to all types of pollen, with the vast majority of sufferers experiencing the greatest reaction to grass pollen.
“With Easter falling well before the start the usual start of the grass pollen season, it is hoped that most sufferers will have a period of respite before the grass pollen season begins in earnest.”
And if you keep forgetting your handkerchief - you can’t say you weren’t warned.
Allergy UK was warning us all as far back as February that the “milder weather” during the winter months would spell hay fever doom.
Nurse Advisor at Allergy UK Holly Shaw had some tips for anyone suffering amid spring’s early bloom.
“If people start to become symptomatic they should start taking their medications early so they will be most effective when the pollen levels really peak,” she advises.
How to ward off hay fever
Here are some useful tips for the sneezy from Allergy UK.
Avoidance of the allergen
- Check pollen counts and avoid going outdoors when these are high.
- Shower when you get indoors and change clothes to remove the allergens.
- Avoid drying clothes on an outdoor washing line when pollen counts are high.
- Apply a nasal barrier to prevent pollen entering the nose.
- Keep windows closed when indoors – particularly early mornings and evenings when high amounts of pollen is in the air.
- Wipe pets’ coats with a damp microfibre cloth to remove pollens that collect on their fur when they have been out.
Managing symptoms with medication
People living with hay fever should aim to start using preventative/treatment nasal sprays two weeks before symptoms usually begin, and take medication regularly for it to be effective.
- Take medication to block the allergic reaction (antihistamines in the form of tablet, liquid or nasal spray) – note that some cause drowsiness.
- Take medication to reduce inflammation from the reaction (e.g. nasal steroids prescribed by a doctor) in the case of moderate to severe hay fever.
- Corticosteroid tablets can help to relieve severe symptoms. They should be taken for a few days in combination with a corticosteroid/antihistamine nasal spray (prescribed by a doctor) .
For further information on hay fever you can call the Allergy UK Helpline on 01322 619 898 or email [email protected]
“A pharmacist is a good source of knowledge on the wide range of treatments and medication available choices available to treat specific hay fever symptoms.
“Pollen can also be a trigger for those with asthma – 80 per cent of people with asthma will also have hay fever.
Managing hay fever symptoms can help prevent exacerbations of asthma.”
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