Hay fever sufferers face another month of misery from tree pollen with scientists also predicting an early start to the grass pollen season.
The birch pollen season, which began around 10 days sooner than last year, has left millions experiencing symptoms and now allergy scientists expect the grass pollen season will begin earlier in May than normal.
The late date of the Easter weekend means holidaymakers keen to get outdoors are facing higher levels of pollen in the atmosphere than in previous years, with more trees in leaf.
It has been particularly bad for people so far this year
Jean Emberlin, Allergy UK
Birch pollen is currently at peak levels in the South of England and the Midlands, with high readings expected in northern parts of the UK later in the month.
The early onset of the season is thought to have been brought about by the comparatively warm winter and early spring.
The sustained warm temperatures also mean 2017 is likely to be a year when the grass pollen season builds up steadily, rather than beginning suddenly in the final week of May.
“It has been particularly bad for people so far this year, and it’s likely to continue into the immediate future,” said Jean Dr Jean Emberlin, Scientific Director at Allergy UK.
“It is affecting lots of people and started quite suddenly because we’ve had this almost continual run of good weather.
“This Easter is far worse for hay fever sufferers than last year.”
The Met Office said springtimes in Britain are now around one degree warmer than in the 1960s, with the average temperature for March, April and May rising to 8.1C between 2007 and 2016.
The forecaster also said the number of days recording frost, which can arrest the spread of pollen into the atmosphere, had fallen slightly, particularly in Scotland.
Dr Emblin said this year’s good weather meant it is likely that the suffering experienced by hay fever suffers is being made worse by pollution in the air.
Approximately a quarter of the 18 million hay fever sufferers in Britain are allergic to the pollen from birch trees, which traditionally reaches its peak in early May, while the majority suffer from grass pollen.
While there is no cure for hay fever, many people are able to control their symptoms with treatment such as antihistamines and steroid.
In February, however, researchers at Imperial College London said sufferers could all but cure their condition if they take pills or injections which acclimatise them to pollen.
A study showed that three years of immunotherapy showed “big improvements” which previous trials of only two years had not achieved.
Pollen contains proteins that affect people’s nose, eyes sinuses and throat by causing them to become swollen and inflamed.
Birch trees are often planted in parks or near houses, and a single catkin can produce more than one million pollen grains, which are spread on the wind.
Doctors recommend that hay fever suffers keep doors and windows closed high pollen periods, as well as refraining from drying washing outside.