Hay fever is a common condition that’s caused by an allergy to different types of pollen, according to the NHS. Pollen is a fine powder that’s released by plants, and it contains proteins that can irritate the nose, throat and eyes. With around 20 per cent of the UK affected by hay fever, pollen count spikes could result in large numbers of runny noses and watering eyes. The Met Office has forecasted ‘High’ pollen counts in southern England today.
London, South-East England, and South-West England are all at the highest risk of hay fever symptoms, according to the Met Office.
The Midlands and Wales can expect ‘Moderate’ pollen counts, while the rest of the UK – including Scotland and Northern Ireland – were forecasted ‘Low’ pollen counts.
During this part of the year, the pollen affecting hay fever patients is largely from trees, according to charity Allergy UK.
“Pollen levels are at their highest at the beginning of the day, when they rise with the warming air, and at the end of the day when it’s cooling down,” it said.
“Counts will increase in dry warm weather, especially if it’s windy.
“So avoid going outside – and especially avoid strenuous activity – at these times.”
While it may be difficult to avoid becoming exposed to pollen, there are some easy ways to lower your risk.
If you go outside, you should wear protective clothing, including goggles or gloves, and you should take them off before going inside.
Wearing wraparound sunglasses will help to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes, added the charity.
“Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves yourself,” it said. “If you must perform these tasks, use a filtration face mask.
“Apply an effective allergen barrier balm around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollens and other allergens and help prevent a reaction.”
The most common hay fever symptoms include itching eyes, sneezing, blocked noses and headaches.
But symptoms vary from person to person, and the severity of symptoms depend on how much pollen is in the air.
Hay fever is a risk factor for developing asthma, and it can even significantly affect your work or school performance.
The condition can even cause some patients to develop breathlessness, nosebleeds, and even sinus pain.
You should speak to a doctor if your hay fever symptoms can’t be controlled by over-the-counter medication.