MILLIONS asthma sufferers are at risk today as a massive pollen bomb has hit the country causing misery for hay fever sufferers.
Warnings for high pollen levels are in place for the whole week in certain parts of the UK – as grass season reaches its peak.
Sizzling weather followed by rain has created the perfect storm of pollen – with experts warning it could prove deadly.
More than six million Brits are plagued by itchy eyes, a constant runny nose, headaches and irritating sneezes every summer.
And for half of them, deadly asthma attacks are a real threat – triggered by pollen.
The Met Office has warned of high pollen levels across the south of England and Midlands today, spreading to the northeast by tomorrow.
And it’s not gone unnoticed by people on Twitter – dozens have taken to social media to complain about how bad their symptoms are today.
Chris tweeted: “Definitely the worst hayfever day of the year, so far”.
Scott agreed, tweeting: “When you want to take your eyes out and wash them! Yup #hayfever”.
And Cat asked the dramatic question most sufferers will no doubt be feeling: “Is it hay fever or am I dying?”
More misery to come
With the weather set to continue being unsettled, the potential for more misery is high.
The week looks split into warm, sunny weather with 48-hour windows of bleak rain.
“Thunderstorms can have a devastating impact on people with asthma and trigger an asthma attack which could be fatal,” she said.
“Humid, stormy conditions break the pollen into much smaller particles, which are then inhaled more deeply into the lungs and can lead to life-threatening asthma attacks.”
Hay fever and asthma are closely linked, with around 80 per cent of people with asthma finding their symptoms are made worse when pollen counts are high.
Sonia added: “Pollen is a top trigger for asthma attacks at this time of the year, affecting an estimated 3.3million people with asthma in the UK.
“People with asthma who also have a pollen allergy not only experience classic hay fever symptoms such as itchy eyes and a running nose, but are also at an increased risk of a life-threatening asthma attack.”
Grass pollen season
It is thought that more than 10 million people in Britain suffer with hay fever – and it affects around 80 per cent of people with asthma.
Grass pollen is the most common allergy and affects 90 per cent of people with hay fever, according to Allergy UK.
The season runs from mid-May until July, with two peaks – usually the first two weeks of June and the first two weeks of July.
But this can vary depending on where you are in the country and how the weather has been during spring and early summer.
Air pollution also to blame
EVER noticed how your hayfever feels even worse when you get to work?
Well, it might be down to the fact that your morning commute can make hayfever symptoms more severe.
When high levels of pollen mix with high levels of air pollution, hayfever sufferers come in for a world of pain.
Up to 9 million people in the UK could be experiencing the effects of “pollenution” – a word coined by Boots UK to describe the effect of excessive pollution and pollen.
Air pollution does make hayfever worse, despite the fact that only one in ten people associate air pollution with making their symptoms worse.
Don’t think your commute is that polluted?
Back in January, researchers raised fresh concerns over the alarming air quality on the tube, where pollution levels are 30 times higher than on the roads above.
One million more people are buying hay fever remedies
An estimated 26 per cent of adults in the UK reported suffering from hay fever in 2017, according to research.
Last year that figure increased to 31 per cent with a million new people buying hay fever medicines and remedies for the first time.
The rise is believed to be due to changes in our climate
A “pollen bomb” has put more people at risk than ever, with experts saying that a concentration of lots of different types of pollen is triggering allergic reactions in people who have never suffered from hay fever before.
So, what can you do if you find your eyes suddenly itching?
6 ways to treat hay fever
There’s currently no cure for hay fever, but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment – to a certain extent.
1. Have more sex
Apparently, having sex can help to relieve symptoms of congestion.
Researchers at Tabriz Medical University in Iran suggested that getting frisky during pollen season could ease allergy-related symptoms such as sneezing.
According to their study, sex causes blood vessels in nasal passages to constrict helping to clear blocked noses and dry up runny eyes.
Max Wiseberg, airborne allergen expert and founder of HayMax barrier balms, said: “There is research which suggests that sex could help with the symptoms, so that may be something to consider although there may be some practical issues around timing and locations.
“However there is probably not a more pleasant way to deal with the symptoms of hay fever.”
The only downside is that the effects are thought to only affect guys who ejaculate – not women.
2. Avoid pollen
The most effective way to control hay fever is to avoid exposure to pollen.
Allergy UK says the best way to do this is to keep windows and doors closed when inside – especially early in the morning and evening when the pollen count is highest.
They also advise avoiding peak pollen times and wearing wraparound sunglasses and a hat to prevent pollen getting onto the face and in the eyes.
You should also avoid drying clothes on an outdoor washing line and shower when you get indoors to remove pollen from your skin and hair.
Antihistamines treat hay fever by blocking the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it thinks it’s under attack from an allergen. This stops the symptoms of the allergic reaction.
Antihistamines are usually effective at treating itching, sneezing and watery eyes, but they may not help with clearing a blocked nose.
They’re available in tablet form and also as nasal sprays and eye drops.
Corticosteroids (steroids) are used to treat hay fever because they have an anti-inflammatory effect.
When pollen triggers your allergic reaction, the inside of your nose becomes inflamed.
Corticosteroids can reduce the inflammation and prevent the symptoms of hay fever.
5. Natural remedies
Many people are turning towards natural remedies rather than conventional medicine to alleviate symptoms.
Some try inhaling steam to clear congestion while others suggest drinking nettle tea – an anti-inflammatory.
For those with persistent hay fever symptoms, a GP may refer you for immunotherapy treatment.
This involves gradually introducing you to small amounts of the allergen, such as pollen, and monitoring your allergic reaction in a controlled environment.
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