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Suffering from hay fever hell this summer?

New research from the Met Office and NHS shows pollen levels are unusually high this year

Sarah Bosley


01635 886655

Suffering from hay fever hell this summer?

The Met Office has today confirmed what everyone’s sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes has been hinting at for some time – this summer is seeing an unusually high pollen count. And the worst is still to come.

Pollen levels have been unusually high in recent weeks, with as many as 20 million hayfever and asthma sufferers impacted, but the Met Office is now warning the worst is yet to be, as grass pollen prepares to reach its peak in the coming weeks.

New research from the Met Office, which helps run the pollen-monitoring network in the UK, has revealed that two-fifths of hay fever sufferers (41%) suffer so badly that it ruins their whole summer.

However, more than half (57%) of hay fever sufferers admit they don’t know what type of pollen affects them, meaning they are not armed with the know-how to help combat their allergy.

Worse still, according to the poll of 2,000 British hay fever sufferers, many are exacerbating their symptoms unnecessarily.

Drying clothes outside, leaving the windows open and not taking antihistamines can all make matter worse.

The Met Office’s Yolanda Clewlow, manager of the UK pollen network, 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.”

Joint research by the Met Office and the NHS is hoping to identify different grass pollen types, the worst culprits when it comes to hay fever, in a bid to help people manage their condition, but in the meantime they've issued some helpful tips to try to reduce your summer symptoms.

  • Take antihistamines from the start of the season to build up immunity and de-sensitise the effects of high pollen
  • Don’t open the windows when the pollen count is high – get a fan instead
  • Cut the grass – Keeping grass short will help reduce symptoms and allow you to enjoy your garden
  • Don’t hang your washing outside
  • Limit your alcohol intake – Some studies have shown that many alcoholic drinks contain histamine, meaning alcohol could cause or worsen symptoms of asthma and hayfever
  • Shower in the evening
  • Change clothes when you come in from the outside

You can find the Met Office’s dedicated pollen forecast here or download its mobile app and request alerts for your area.

You can get more advice from the NHS and Allergy UK.

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