The sun is out, the temperature’s up, but, unfortunately so’s the grass pollen count. Which means that as we try to make the most of the beautiful weather, the hayfever sufferers among us will be having a miserable time – even more so than usual as the late start to summer means the grass pollen season has been delayed.
As Professor Jean Emberlin of Pollen UK explains: "The cold winter and continuing cool weather throughout May means it’s taken a long time for the soil temperatures to rise sufficiently to allow good early growth of grasses in many places."
This has made for a sudden start to the season – with peak times of dispersal being through June and the first half of July - with high pollen counts.
Professor Emberlin’s tips for sufferers include:
• It helps to know your allergy triggers. Keep a diary about when and where your symptoms occur. Match it against a pollen calendar to see what’s in the air.
• Try to avoid going out when the pollen count is high. On dry, warm days, pollen counts are highest from early to mid-morning and from mid- to late-afternoon.
• Avoid cutting the lawn as the sap from the cut grass will form aerosols containing grass allergens which could trigger hayfever.
• Wear wraparound sunglasses to help keep pollen away from eyes.
• If you have a runny or congested nose, reduce intake of dairy foods - evidence suggests they can increase mucous production.
• Avoid drying clothes outdoors on high pollen days – the fabrics act as filters collecting the pollen to be brought indoors.
• Change your clothes when you get indoors and wash your hair, skin and eyes to get rid of pollen that’s accumulated.
• Get someone to brush pets or rub them down with a damp towel to remove pollen collected on their fur.
• Pollen will come indoors through open windows and doors and deposit itself on all surfaces, with allergens remaining active for months. So keep beds – especially pillows – covered until you’re ready to use them and vacuum and wet dust regularly to reduce dust residues.
• Stock up on preparations to help you cope with the onset of symptoms. Try Opticrom Hayfever Eye Drops, £5.62 (www.opticrom.co.uk) or Nasacort Allergy Nasal Spray, £4.95 (www.nasacort.co.uk).
The most severe grass pollen season regions will be in central and northern England as they experience very high counts on warm, dry days. Go to www.nasacort.co.uk for ‘hayfever hotspot’ maps that show how each reason will be affected – including abroad, so you can plan a hayfever-free holiday.