One of wettest winters on record may lead to severe levels of hay fever
Hay fever sufferers are being warned that this summer is set to be an exceptionally high pollen production year.
According to international expert in hay fever and aeroallergens, Dr Jean Emberlin, the recent wet and warm winter has established the perfect conditions for extreme levels of hay fever.
Early analysis indicates that it has been the second wettest winter for the UK and Ireland on record, says Dr Emberlin, speaking on behalf of Opticrom Hayfever Eye Drops, and early birch pollen counts are above average.
She said: ““The season is likely to be more severe this year than last. Very high birch pollen counts will occur on warm, dry days with wind. Birch pollen is the second most irritating for hay fever sufferers after grass, affecting 25 percent. Birch tends to alternate between high and low years and this year is a high pollen production year.”
Sufferers should be preparing for a difficult time as the birch season is active right now and goes on through May.
Grass triggered hay fever, which affects 95 per cent of sufferers, is also due to be extremely severe this year thanks to weather conditions and will last through till the end of August typically.
Weather predictions for late spring indicate early rainfall leading to a warm and dry summer, which are perfect conditions for high grass pollen count but bad news for sufferers.
Hay fever fast-facts:
- Birch is the main allergenic tree pollen in the UK and Ireland, affecting about 25% of hay fever sufferers.
- Once the season has started high or very high birch pollen counts will occur on warm, dry days with some wind with urban areas worst affected.
- The birch pollen season in Ireland typically lasts from mid-April over four weeks with the grass pollen season hitting Ireland from May through to the end of August.
Dr Emberlin’s Hay Fever prevention tips
- Take antihistamines and follow the instructions carefully as some may make you drowsy
- Use steroid nasal sprays before the season starts if you can
- Pregnant women should take cellulose nasal sprays
- For irritated eyes, use drops such as Opticrom Hay Fever Eye drops to soothe itching
- Wash your hair regularly during hay fever season, drive with your windows up and damp dust regularly at home and work to control contact with hay fever spores
- Keep windows and doors closed – including overnight as early morning pollen can be particularly troubling
- Avoid high pollen activities e.g. ask a partner or friend to mow your lawn for you
- Vacuum your house regularly and dust with a damp cloth. The best vacuum cleaners to use have a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter
- Avoid fresh flowers in the house. If you love the look of fresh flowers try artificial silk ones instead. Flowers that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction include azaleas, petunias, hydrangeas, sunflowers, and daffodils
- Avoid cigarette smoke, which can make your symptoms worse
- Keep pets out of the house in the hayfever season, or wash them regularly if they live indoors
- Change your clothes and shower to remove pollen after being outside
- Shake the washing before you bring it in from the garden to dislodge any pollen – get a non-hayfever sufferer to do this for you if possible.
Out and about
- Avoid walking in grassy areas, especially longer grasses
- Avoid camping holidays during your hayfever season
- Wear sunglasses – wrap around ones give maximum protection
- Keep the car windows shut
- Check you have pollen filters on the car air vents and change them at every service
- The pollen count is often lower nearer the coast, so why not take a trip to the beach?