UK braces for 'pollen bomb': Tips and forecasts for hay fever sufferers

The Met Office pollen map for Saturday, June 22.
-Credit: (Image: Met Office)

Hay fever sufferers are bracing for a challenging few days as the Met Office has issued a warning that pollen counts will be 'very high' in the coming days. The latest forecast from the Met Office suggests that the pollen count across the UK is expected to remain 'very high' until next Wednesday (June 26).

The Met Office explains: "The 'pollen count' is literally the amount of pollen per cubic metre observed over 24 hours." It further clarifies that the term is often used interchangeably with "pollen forecast", but the pollen count, along with weather conditions, helps predict pollen levels in the upcoming days. The 'forecast' is essentially a prediction of the risk level of pollen in the near future.

The National Pollen and Aerobiological Unit, located at the University of Worcester, attributes the current very high pollen count to grass pollen and weed pollen. Grass pollen is in its peak season, posing a high to very high risk during warm, dry weather.

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Nettle pollen is also peaking, with some plantain and dock pollen present in the air, reports the Manchester Evening News. At present, tree pollen levels are moderate, and fungal spore levels are also being monitored. A spokesperson for the Met Office told the MEN: "The fine, dry weather that we're expecting for much of the country late in the weekend and into the start of next week is allowing pollen levels to reach Very High levels in our forecast, with grass pollen the main culprit."

"At this time of year, periods of warm and dry weather means that grass pollen can be released quite easily and cause some impacts for those who suffer with hay fever. The main advice during periods with Very High pollen levels is to avoid the pollen if you can, which can include changing clothes once you come inside, avoiding drying clothes outside and driving with windows closed where possible."

"Warm and dry conditions are likely to continue into the middle of next week, before more unsettled conditions could provide some relief from the Very High pollen levels for many."

High pollen counts can wreak havoc on those with hay fever, a common allergy that triggers sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes. While there's no cure, certain actions and medications can alleviate symptoms.

The NHS offers several tips to mitigate discomfort during high pollen counts, including:

  • putting petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) around your nostrils to trap pollen

  • wearing wraparound sunglasses, a mask or a wide-brimmed hat to stop pollen getting into your nose and eyes

  • showering and changing your clothes after you have been outside to wash pollen off

  • keeping windows and doors shut as much as possible

  • vacuuming regularly and dust with a damp cloth

The NHS suggests you don't do the following:

  • do not cut grass or walk on grass

  • do not spend too much time outside

  • do not keep fresh flowers in the house

  • do not smoke or be around smoke – it makes your symptoms worse

  • do not dry clothes outside – they can catch pollen

  • do not let pets into the house if possible – they can carry pollen indoors