'Pollen bomb' to explode over UK - here's how to survive it

25 June 2024, 12:48 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 12:55

The Met Office has issued multiple "very high" warnings for pollen count
The Met Office has issued multiple "very high" warnings for pollen count. Picture: Met Office

By Flaminia Luck

Bad news for hay fever sufferers, as the "worst pollen bomb of the year" is set to hit the UK.

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The Met Office has warned the pollen count will be 'very high' across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the next four days.

Pollen spread will remain at similar levels until Thursday when most of the UK will witness a drop from 'very high' pollen levels to 'high'.

However, London, the south west and the south east and the east of England will see no such respite and will remain at 'very high'.

The Hay Day event comes as forecasts suggest a heatwave with highs of 31C in some areas.

From Friday, most of the country will be back in the red zone experiencing 'very high' levels of pollen
From Friday, most of the country will be back in the red zone experiencing 'very high' levels of pollen. Picture: Met Office

What is hay fever?

Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) is an allergy caused by pollen grains released during the pollen season which normally runs from March to November in the UK.

Hay fever symptoms

  • sneezing and coughing
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • loss of smell
  • pain around the sides of your head and your forehead
  • headache
  • feeling tired

Symptoms are usually worse between late March and September, especially when it's warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.

Hay fever can last for weeks or months, unlike a cold, which usually goes away after 1 to 2 weeks.

Pollen Count

The “pollen count” is literally the amount of pollen per cubic metre observed over 24 hours. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “pollen forecast” but the pollen count is used, along with what the weather is up to, to forecast pollen levels over the coming days. The 'forecast' is actually a forecast of the risk of the level of pollen over the coming days.

When is the pollen count considered high?

This depends on the type of pollen, but once counted, the number of particles is represented per cubic metre. Hay fever symptoms usually appear when the pollen count exceeds 50.

  • Grass - a reading between 50 and 150 grains of grass pollen per cubic metre is considered high.
  • Birch - a reading between 81 and 200 is high
Girl with hayfever
Common hay fever symptoms include sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, mouth and throat. Picture: Alamy

How to treat hay fever yourself

There's currently no cure for hay fever and you cannot prevent it. But you can do things to ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high.

These include:

  • put petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • wear wraparound sunglasses, a mask or a wide-brimmed hat to stop pollen getting into your nose and eyes
  • shower and change your clothes after you have been outside to wash pollen off
  • keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • try to use a pollen filter in the air vents of your car, if you have one, and a HEPA filter in your vaccum cleaner

What not to do:

  • 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
  • do not let pets into the house if possible – they can carry pollen indoors

A pharmacist can help with hay fever

Speak to a pharmacist if you have hay fever. they can give you advice and suggest the best treatments to help with symptoms, such as:

  • antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays
  • steroid nasal sprays

Some antihistamines can make you very sleepy, so speak to your pharmacist about non-drowsy antihistamines if you need to.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to the fine powder that plants produce, called pollen, usually when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes and throat
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to the fine powder that plants produce, called pollen, usually when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes and throat. Picture: Alamy

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