A study carried out by the University of Worcester found UK oak and grass pollen seasons are starting earlier, while birch season is getting more severe.
Dr Beverley Adams-Grooms, lead author of the study, explained: “Climate change is causing some plants to produce more pollen by increasing temperatures during the pollen production period.”
She continued to the Big Issue: “Birch trees, which affect around a quarter of hay fever sufferers in the spring, are producing more pollen over time because of increasing June temperatures.”
Professor Stefan Buczacki, an expert on botany and plant biology, suggested another reason why more people could be suffering this year.
There has been an “increase or change in the type of agricultural crops that are being grown”.
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Professor Buczacki elaborated to ITV: “Look at the enormous increase in the acreage of oil seed rape, and a lot of people are allergic to rape pollen.
“You’ve only got to look out of your car window these days and the countryside is coloured yellow much more than it was 20 or 30 years ago.”
Pollen levels are “very high” and “high” all across the UK, according to the Met Office.
“Temperature plays an important part in the release of pollen,” it stated.
“For grass [pollen], a maximum temperature between 18C to 28C could give a high count if it’s a dry day with low humidity and a gentle breeze.”
Hay fever affects one in five people, so a high proportion of Brits could be suffering right now.
Symptoms of hay fever, the NHS points out, include:
- Sneezing and coughing
- Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- Loss of smell
- Pain around your temples and forehead
- Feeling tired.
While there is no cure for hay fever, and there’s no way to prevent it, there are ways to ease your symptoms.
Some tips include:
- Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
- Shower and change your clothes after you have been outside to wash pollen off
- Stay indoors whenever possible
- Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
- Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
- Buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
There are some precautions too, such as:
- Do not cut grass or walk on grass
- Do not spend too much time outside
- Do not keep fresh flowers in the house
- Do not smoke or be around smoke – it makes your symptoms worse
- Do not dry clothes outside – they can catch pollen.
If your hay fever symptoms are especially bad this year, your next port of call should be your local pharmacist.
Should symptoms still not improve after following the advice from your local pharmacist, then it’s time to book a doctor’s appointment.
Your GP might prescribe a steroid treatment to help you manage your hay fever symptoms.
Alternatively, you might be referred for immunotherapy, which means you will be given a small amount of pollen (via an injection or tablet) to build your immunity to the allergen.
“Immunotherapy is a specialist service that may not be available everywhere,” the NHS adds.