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Asthma and Lung UK shares hay fever advice amid reports mild February may trigger early season





Asthma sufferers are being reminded to remain vigilant about taking preventative medication amid suggestions England’s relatively mild winter could bring forward this year’s hay fever season.

Pollen forecasters based at the University of Worcester, which produce the UK pollen counts in conjunction with the Met Office, say they are already receiving reports of people experiencing hay fever-like symptoms.

Tree pollen counts rise first, followed by grass pollen later in spring and early summer. Image: iStock.
Tree pollen counts rise first, followed by grass pollen later in spring and early summer. Image: iStock.

Scientists suggest this might be connected to a particularly mild, but wet, February.

While grass pollen isn’t expected to be at its worse until the summer, counts for tree pollen are already ticking upwards with warnings that dry days above 10C will bring high counts to many areas in the coming week.

Similar observations are also being made across the Channel in France and Germany, where forecasters there too are reporting earlier than usual increases in some pollens.

There are reports in both the UK and Europe that tree pollen counts may be rising earlier than usual. Image: Stock photo.
There are reports in both the UK and Europe that tree pollen counts may be rising earlier than usual. Image: Stock photo.

Hay fever, says the NHS, is usually worse between late March and September particularly when the weather is warm, humid and windy.

Symptoms can include sneezing and coughing, itchy eyes, throat or mouth, runny or blocked nose and pain the forehead while those with asthma can also experience a tight chest, difficulty breathing and may develop a wheeze or cough.

Erika Radford, head of health advice at Asthma + Lung UK, said changes in the weather will cause pollen levels to rise and its important that asthmatics use the inhalers they’re prescribed and take hay fever medication if pollen is known to trigger their condition.

Pollen can act as a trigger for asthmatics. Image: Stock photo.
Pollen can act as a trigger for asthmatics. Image: Stock photo.

Hot weather, she explained, can trigger symptoms which is also then exacerbated by higher levels of pollutants and pollens in the warmer air.

She added: “This could be very serious for people with asthma for whom pollen is a trigger as it can make the symptoms of their condition worse and put them at risk of hospitalisation or even lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. The important thing they need to remember is to use their preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, even when they feel well, as this builds up protection in their airways over time reducing their risk of asthma symptoms when they come into contact with an asthma trigger.

“They should also carry their reliever inhaler with them at all times, to quickly treat symptoms if they do come on, and use hay fever medicines to help reduce the allergic reaction to pollen.”

Asthma sufferers are being reminded to take medication they’re prescribed even when well. Image: iStock.
Asthma sufferers are being reminded to take medication they’re prescribed even when well. Image: iStock.

Advice about managing symptoms and how best to avoid flare-ups during the spring and summer months is available on the charity’s website.

Sufferers, says the charity, should also check pollen and air pollution forecasts for their area, in order to avoid going outside as much as possible on days when levels are at their highest.



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