Why is hay fever so bad this year?

ITV News Health & Science Correspondent Martin Stew explains why everyone is suffering more with hay fever this year

Hay fever is an allergic reaction to certain types of pollen. The more pollen that comes into contact with your eyes, nose and throat, the worse your symptoms get. 

We all know those symptoms: sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy watery eyes and even headaches.

It can be miserable, especially for asthma sufferers who often get more severe reactions. 

The pollen count is particularly high at the moment. The combination of sunshine and rain has seen plants grow rapidly.

Scientists believe climate change is also influencing the hay fever season to start sooner (late March) and keep going longer (until September).

There are some estimates that climate change will increase season severity by 60%.

At the moment we also have poor air quality. Air pollution levels are medium to high across much of the UK.

The Mayor of London issued a high pollution warning in the capital on Tuesday caused by the high temperatures.

The gasses within dirty air can can irritate people’s respiratory systems and reduce the threshold start start to experience symptoms. 

There’s no cure for hay fever but there are plenty of drugs available to limit the symptoms.

Other practical steps advised are to stay indoors, shower regularly, ease off the alcohol (which contains histamine) and even smear Vaseline around your nose to act as a pollen trap.

Hay Fever seasons usually lasts from March until September. Credit: PA

NHS sees surge in people seeking hay fever advice

NHS England today revealed people were seeking advice about hay fever once every three seconds on Sunday.

Pollen counts have been very high in most of England and Wales for the past few days.

NHS England, which runs the nhs.uk website, said there were 122,650 visits to the hay fever section of the website last week.

In the first week of May there were just 35,000 visits.

Sunday was the busiest day of the week, with 27,834 visits over 24 hours.

The site also recorded surges on its specific antihistamine web pages.The NHS said hay fever can usually be treated at home with widely available medicine and normal cases did not need treatment from a GP.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…