Hay fever symptoms could get worse this year, says research

Experts are warning rising temperatures may cause tree pollen levels to spike across the UK.

This could put a damper on enjoying the warm weather for hay fever sufferers in the country.

According to the Met Office, the first week of spring will see dry, sunny weather and daytime temperatures in the mid- to late-teens for the coming week.

It is thought climate change may be leading to an extension of the grass and tree pollen season, with it starting earlier.

Some 64% of people who suffer from hay fever believe pollution is the biggest environmental factor impacting their allergies, while 52% blamed it on rising temperatures.

And 38% of them thought that extreme weather conditions were responsible for their heightened hay fever symptoms.

The new research by Kleenex surveyed 2,000 people in the UK with hay fever and found over the past 12 months, many have experienced their symptoms getting worse.

Some 72% of respondents reported an increase in sneezing, 64% afflicted with itchy eyes and 48% suffered a runny nose – all symptoms associated with hay fever.

One third of those polled admitted to staying indoors because their allergies were too severe while 12% said they had called in sick to work as a result.

The survey found that on average, increased symptoms for allergy sufferers resulted in a loss of two hours’ sleep a night and 33% of those surveyed said they avoid local parks and green spaces.

A quarter of the respondents had also wrongly self-diagnosed their hay fever symptoms as Covid-19.

According to the research, more than half (58%) of allergy sufferers did not know what pollen they were allergic to, and only 20% of them recognised their symptoms for what they are.

‘Living with allergies and maintaining a quality of life is not always easy. Enjoying everyday activities can become a real struggle,’ said Amena Warner, head of clinical services at the charity Allergy UK.

‘With the realities that warmer weather brings, it is crucial that allergy sufferers be given the advice, support and tools to manage their symptoms whilst staying active and healthy.’

According to the Met Office’s pollen forecast London and South East England are due to have moderate levels of pollen for the next five days.

On Wednesday, tree pollen levels are expected to be high across Coventry, Newcastle, Leicester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Edinburgh, Manchester and Liverpool according to Kleenex’s pollen forecast tool.

‘When temperatures rise, primary sources of pollutants tend to increase, making the air quality even more challenging for millions of hay fever sufferers,’ said Jin Zhang, global medical director at Kimberly-Clark UK, the company behind Kleenex.

The survey was conducted online by Mortar Research in March 2022 according to Market Research Society guidelines.

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