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High pollen count warning for today: UK hay fever sufferers ready for symptoms onslaught

Doctor Hilary on the difference between covid and hay fever

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Pollen counts across London Southeast, East, Southwest England, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber are reported to be high today. According to the Met Office, this includes ash, oak, plane and birch.

Hay fever sufferers are set for further symptoms of itchy eyes and blocked noses thanks to high and very high pollen counts today.

In the UK, hay fever is most likely to affect people in May, June and July, which is grass pollen season.

Grass pollen is the variety which most hay fever sufferers are allergic to, although people can get symptoms in spring and late summer too, if tree or weed pollen triggers their allergies.

Pollen is made up of tiny particles which are released by plants and trees as part of their reproductive cycle.

It is an extremely fine powder and is spread by insects and the wind.

Pollen can cause significant irritation and inflammation in people who are allergic to it.

Depending on the time of year, the type of pollen in the air will be different.

There are around 30 different types of pollen that cause hay fever and it is possible to be allergic to more than one type.

How to protect?

To help combat symptoms when outdoors, tips to help include:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are at their peak, usually during the midmorning and early evening (this may vary according to plant pollen), and when wind is blowing pollen around
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to minimize the amount of pollen getting into your eyes
  • Don’t hang clothing outdoors to dry; pollen may cling to towels and sheets
  • Try not to rub your eyes; doing so will irritate them and could make your symptoms worse.

Tips for indoors include:

  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning in your car and home. Make sure to keep your air conditioning unit clean
  • Reduce exposure to dust mites, especially in the bedroom. Use “mite-proof” covers for pillows, comforters and duvets, and mattresses and box springs. Wash your bedding frequently, using hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • To limit exposure to mould, keep the humidity in your home low (between 30 and 50 percent) and clean your bathrooms, kitchen, and basement regularly. Use a dehumidifier, especially in the basement and in other damp, humid places, and empty and clean it often. If mould is visible, clean it with mild detergent and a 5 percent bleach solution as directed by an allergist
  • Clean floors with a damp rag or mop, rather than dry-dusting or sweeping.

“Hay fever symptoms usually appear when the pollen count, which is a measure of the number of grains of pollen in one cubic metre of air, exceeds 50,” said the Met Office.

The site added: “The weather conditions affect how much pollen is released and spread around.

“On humid and windy days, pollen spreads easily but on rainy days, pollen can be cleared from the air.

“On sunny days, the pollen count is highest in the early evening and that’s when you are most likely to suffer from hay fever symptoms.”

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