Hay fever sufferers warned as high pollen levels forecast - but which UK areas are worst hit?

Pollen levels are expected to remain high for the rest of the week - in some decidedly bad news for hay fever sufferers. 

The Midlands, south of England, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to see the worst of the pollen, while the north east of England and Scotland will escape with low pollen levels.

More people will start to suffer from hay fever as the tree pollen season ends and grass pollen season begins, the Met Office said.

And there is unlikely to be an imminent reprieve, forecasters warned.

"[Sufferers will] only get a respite when the grass has shed all the available pollen or if we get significant rainfall, which will effectively wash the pollen out of the atmosphere," spokesperson Grahame Madge said.

With exam season under way for many students, some could see their performance affected by the high pollen count.

Dr Milli Raizada, GP and senior clinical lecturer at Lancaster University, said the impact of hay fever should not be underestimated.

"People think it is such a minor condition but it can have an impact on people's work performance and sleep," she said.

"I think there are lots of theories about why [hay fever] has been so bad. The prolonged cold weather and then the sudden explosion of warm weather has led to very high counts of pollen."

Dr Raizada recommended hay fever sufferers took antihistamine tablets or used nasal or steroid sprays to reduce inflammation.

She said antihistamines could be used as a preventative measure a couple of weeks before high pollen levels are expected.

People can also stay inside, keep windows closed and wear sunglasses to reduce the level of pollen they are exposed to, she said.