‘Hay fever hell’ will hit half of UK tomorrow - check if you’re affected (2024)

WE'RE well and truly into hay fever season and high pollen counts show no sign of letting up.

The Met Office has warned of hay fever hell approaching, with pollen levels swarming to 'high' in much of the UK from tomorrow.



If you suffer from hay fever, you'll likely be plunged into itchy, sneezy, stuffy misery if you live in affected areas.

Pollen counts are expected to climb to 'high' tomorrow in half of the UK.

The South West, South East - including London - and the East of England will all be hit by a pollen bomb as of Thursday.

The East and West Midlands will also be affected, as will Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales.

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Counts are expected to remain 'high' in all the above areas on Friday except for Yorkshire and the Humber, where pollen levels will fall to 'medium'.

West Midlands residents will also get some relief on Saturday with lower pollen levels.

But hay fever hell is expected to extend northwards again on Sunday, this time spreading to the North West too.

The North East of England and Northern Ireland will have 'medium' pollen counts throughout.

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Meanwhile, pollen levels will remain blissfully 'low' in Scotland from Thursday up until the weekend.

Common and severe hay fever symptoms

Hay fever is a super common allergy affecting around one in four adults in the UK.

What is hay fever: Hayfever season strikes early as mild winter sparks early pollen 'explosion'

Holly Shaw, a nurse advisor for Allergy UK, told The Sun that the number of people affected by hay fever has trebled in the last 30 years.

"The condition is becoming more common, partly due to better diagnosis, but also to due to climate change, with warmer temperatures causing pollen seasons to start earlier and last longer," she said.

You can be stuck by symptoms at any age. You may have started to experience them as a toddler, but they're common in school age children and young adults.

You might have noticed your symptoms getting worse as the weather warms up.

That's because "pollen counts are higher on dry warm days with low humidity and a gentle breeze to help disperse the fine pollen granules into the air and keep the pollen grains circulating", Holly explained.

Not everyone will experience the allergy in the same way.

Pollen basically triggers a response in your immune system, kickstarting the release of histamine and causing symptoms which can affect the lining of the nose, throat, eyes and ears.

"Some people may experience sneezing bouts, whilst others may have more severe symptoms which affect daily activates," Holly said.

This can include and "a constant runny itchy nose, itchy watery eyes, itchy throat, ears or palate, a stuffy nose which affects their breathing and for some their asthma may be triggered".

'Deadly' complications

"Hay fever can have a huge impact on quality of life if it is not treated or well managed," the nurse said.

"Having severe hay fever can affect someone’s ability to participate in outdoor activities, affect their mental health and even have a detrimental impact on careers, especially for someone who works outdoors."

Hay fever can take a toll on your physical wellbeing too, making you more irritable and affecting your ability to sleep or work.

Holly warned that if the allergy is poorly treated, it can lead to complications such as sinus infections or even the development of asthma.

"Wheezing or difficulty breathing can occur if you also have allergic asthma," she added.

In fact, 90 per cent of people with asthma have allergic rhinitis.

There's also an increased risk of worsening asthma symptoms and hospitalisation with poorly treated hay fever.

Erika Radford, Head of Health Advice at Asthma + Lung UK, told The Sun: “More than three million people with asthma are affected by pollen and when levels are at their highest it can be deadly for those with a lung condition.

"Hay fever can trigger asthma symptoms and increase the risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack."

Holly stressed: "If symptoms do not respond to usual asthma treatments, symptoms are getting worse, or if someone develops a wheeze or breathing difficulties with hay fever for the first time, it is important to quickly seek medical advice."

How can I protect myself?

If you're experiencing hay fever symptoms, you might find yourself just grinning and bearing it.

But Holly said it’s important to treat the symptoms.

"This may sound simple, but many people just put up with hay fever symptoms needlessly," she said.

"Most people with hay fever will have symptoms that can be managed by taking a daily non-sedating antihistamine.

"These are available in tablet and syrup form, and you can speak to a pharmacist who can advise you on the best choice for your individual needs.

"We recommend taking your non drowsy antihistamine medication daily to reduce symptoms and if you have a corticosteroid nasal spray start this around two weeks before the onset of symptoms to get the most effective benefit from your treatment.

"In addition, saline nasal sprays and barrier balms can be used concurrently."

How to treat hay fever

‘Hay fever hell’ will hit half of UK tomorrow - check if you’re affected (9)

Holly Shaw, a nurse advisor for Allergy UK, told the Sun: "Treatment choice is very personal and often led by severity of the symptoms – often a combination of treatments will often help improve hay fever symptoms."

She suggested you use a daily non-sedating antihistamine, nasal sprays and barrier balms.

"Other measures that can be used to manage hay fever include reducing exposure to pollen."

She advised you:

  • Wear a mask, wraparound sunglasses and a hat with a peak or large brim to keep pollen allergens out of your eyes and face.
  • On high pollen days, shower or bath, wash your hair and change your clothes when you arrive home. This will help to prevent continued exposure to the pollens indoors.
  • Keep windows closed. This is most important in the early mornings when pollen is being released and, in the evening, when the air cools.
  • Avoid mowing lawns or raking leaves yourself.
  • Avoid drying clothes/linen outside when pollen counts are high.
  • Wipe pets down with a damp cloth to remove pollens.

Erika had some words of advice for people who suffer with asthma during hay fever season.

“Asthma attacks can be terrifying, but there are things you can do to look after yourself," she stressed.

"Using your preventer inhalers every day as prescribed is very important as the medicine dampens down swelling and inflammation in yourairways.

"This means you’re less likely to react badly to your asthma triggers, like pollen.   

“We’d also advise always having your reliever inhaler nearby, even when at home, in case pollen does trigger your asthma symptoms.

"Reliever inhalers quickly relax the muscles in the airways so you can breathe more easily when you get symptoms, like wheezing, coughing, breathlessness and chest tightness. "

Like Holly, Erika advised you also look into antihistamine tablets and steroid nasal sprays.

Her final tip was to check the check pollen and air pollution forecasts in your local area every day, so you can avoid going outdoors as much as possible on high pollen days.

What if your usual ways of managing hay fever aren’t working?

If popping daily antihistamines or using nasal sprays just doesn't seem to be cutting it and you're struggling to sleep or carry out every day tasks, Holly advised you go to your GP, pharmacist or practice nurse for more treatment options.

You may be referred to a specialist if your hay fever is particulalry severe.

"Treatments for severe hay fever can include different medications to treat the symptoms and sometimes a treatment called immunotherapy may be considered," the nurse said.

"This is available on the NHS when other medicines have failed to control your condition.


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"It involves the administration of gradually increasing doses of the allergen extract over a period to create a tolerance or desensitise the immune system so that it no longer reacts to the allergen in the same way.

"Allergen extracts are given either by injection or drops/ tablets under the tongue."

‘Hay fever hell’ will hit half of UK tomorrow - check if you’re affected (2024)


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