It’s true – Brits love talking about the weather. And when you think about it, it’s no surprise; its unpredictability provides us with endless conversation starters. Either it’s too hot, too cold, or too wet.
The past month has been no different. This May has been one of the wettest on record, yet over the recent bank holiday we were sunbathing on the beach, and our Pollen Forecast predicted a major pollen bomb across the UK.
This has left hay fever sufferers wondering if the weather impacts pollen levels. And the answer is it absolutely does.
But whether it’s sun, damp or storms you’ve opened the curtain to today, we’re here to help you with information and top tips from Allergy UK on how to navigate weather allergies.
- Sunny weather
Inevitably, hay fever is associated with summer. The first warm, sunny days of the year always bring the same tough question for those who suffer. Do I head outside to the park or garden to enjoy the sunshine, despite knowing I could be crying and snivelling within half an hour of leaving the house?
While the UK’s pollen season starts in March, most hay fever sufferers experience their most severe symptoms from May to August. That’s because the warmer, sunny weather brings higher levels of grass pollen, which 90% of hay fever sufferers are allergic too.
To make matters worse, the optimum conditions for high pollen counts are when its warm, humid and windy, which is often when there is a sudden change in weather and rain is followed by warm weather (sound familiar?). This is because the rain encourages the grass to grow, and the warm weather then disperses the pollen.
What can I do to deal with hay fever in summer?
- Think about what you’re wearing. There are plenty of accessories you can wear that help prevent pollen, dander, and other airborne allergens from reaching your face, eyes, and hair, such as hats and wraparound sunglasses.
- Use a barrier balm to block allergens. Those with hay fever may find that using a barrier balm around their nostrils can help create a barrier against pollen, dander and dust mites.
- Pick the best time to go outside. The general rule of thumb is that the count goes up in early mornings and evenings, no matter how hot it is.
- Damp weather
While warm, dry weather can lead to higher grass pollen counts, rain and damp conditions often lead to increased levels of airborne mould spores, and yes you guessed it, they can trigger hay fever symptoms too! Typically, woodland areas, forests and gardens harbour fungi that produce such spores, while they can also be found indoors on house dust, ripe fruit and house plant soil.
And how can I deal with it?
- The best thing you can do is to keep the humidity levels in the home as low as possible. Use a dehumidifier and avoid drying your clothes inside.
- Stormy weather
Rainy, stormy days can also trigger hay fever symptoms, leaving some hay fever sufferers wondering if it’s rain they’re allergic to! Named ‘Thunderstorm Asthma’, this is because high winds caused by storms draw pollen and pollution particles into the air, then they become wet and break down into smaller particles that are released back into the air. These smaller particles are then especially prone to trigger hay fever symptoms, as due to their size they can get much deeper into airways in the lungs.
And what can I do?If you can, stay indoors before, during and after the storm and try to keep the windows closed.
With the British weather so predictably unpredictable, it’s a good idea to manage your symptoms by checking the pollen count on a daily basis using the Kleenex Pollen Forecast as well as checking the weather forecast before you head out.