Hay fever symptoms: What causes hay fever in the UK and why is pollen so bad this year?


There fever can be an irritating condition for people to manage throughout the spring, summer, and even early autumn months. Causing a range of symptoms from runny noses to watery eyes, it affects more than 10 million people in the UK.

Here’s what you need to know about the symptoms and why there is fever may be particularly bad this summer.

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What causes fever in the UK?

Hay fever, also called seasonal allergic rhinitis, is caused by exposure to various types of pollen, including from grass, trees, and other plants. Pollen is a fine powdery substance made up of microscopic grains from the male part of a plant that travels through the air to germinate female plants.

Different pollen is more densely present at different times of year, as different plants pollinate differently. Here’s a look at the most common UK pollen types and which time of year they are most prevalent:

alder pollenpresent from January to April, peaking in March

hazel pollenpresent from January to April, peaking February to March

The NHS estimates that more than 10 million people have fever in England alone. Photo: Peopleimages/Getty Images/Canva Pro.

yew pollenpresent from January to April, peaking in March

elm pollenpresent from February to April, peaking in March

willow pollenpresent from February to April, peaking in March

poplar pollenpresent from March to May, peaking in March

The most common symptoms of hayfever include sneezing and an itchy or irritated throat. Photo: 4FR / Getty Images / Canva Pro.

birch pollenpresent from March to June, peaking April to May

ash pollenpresent from March to May, peaking in April

plane pollenpresent from March to May, peaking in May

oak pollenpresent from March to June, peaking in May

Oil seed rape pollenpresent from March to July, peaking May to June

pine pollenpresent from April to July, peaking in May

grass pollenpresent from May to September, peaking June to July

lime pollenpresent from June to July, peaking in June

nettle pollenpresent from May to September, peaking in June

dock pollenpresent from May to August, peaking in June

mugwort pollenpresent from June to September, peaking July to August

Why is pollen so bad this year?

Pollen counts are typically higher in the morning, so if you’re out and about in the morning, you might feel the effects of hay fever worse. However warmer weather in the winter means a longer growing period for plants, which produces a higher concentration of pollen. This could mean that the trend of warmer temperatures in the UK and around the globe might lead to worse hay fever symptoms this year and the years to follow.

To stay on top of the pollen count and predict how bad your hay fever may be, check the Met Office’s pollen forecast to see how dense the pollen clouds are in your area.

What are the top hay fever symptoms?

According to the NHS, symptoms of hay fever can include:

– A runny or blocked nose

– Itchy, red or watery eyes

– Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears

– Pain around your temples and forehead or headaches

Those with asthma may also experience a tight feeling in their chest, being short of breath, or wheezing and coughing. Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms, depending on the severity of the hay fever. The symptoms can last for weeks or months, unlike the common cold which passes after a few weeks.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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