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Allergy UK provide advice for early hay fever

Mild weather conditions in the UK mean that people living with hay fever may experience symptoms much earlier than usual, warns Allergy UK, the leading patient charity for people living with allergies.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (known as hay fever) affects 1 in 5 people in the UK, and can flare up at certain times of the year depending on which pollen(s) the person is allergic to. Tree pollen starts at the beginning of the year, followed by grass pollen which affects the majority of people with hay fever and weed pollen later in the year.  

However, the milder weather experienced in the UK during January and February has caused certain trees (Hazel and Alder) to release pollen earlier than usual, meaning those with hay fever may experience symptoms earlier than expected.

Management of hay fever involves minimising exposure to pollen and treatments and medication to control the symptoms. We advise the following:

Avoidance of the allergen

  • Check pollen counts (both daily and weekly forecasts are available) and avoid time spent outdoors when these are high.
  • Wear a hat and wraparound style sun glasses when outdoors
  • Shower when you get indoors and change clothes to remove the allergens.
  • Avoid drying clothes on an outdoor washing line when pollen counts are high.
  • Apply a nasal allergen barrier balm to reduce pollen particles entering the nose. 
  • Keep windows closed when indoors – particularly early mornings and evenings when pollen counts are higher.

Managing symptoms – where to go for help

People affected by hay fever symptoms should stock up on allergy medications/treatments - a pharmacist is a good source of knowledge on the wide range of treatments and medication available choices available to treat specific hay fever symptoms.

Antihistamines that are non-drowsy are often used as a starting point for treating hay fever symptoms. Sometimes these alone will not be effective and additional treatments (for example nasal sprays, saline nasal washes and eye drops) may be required.

Pollen can also be a trigger for those with asthma - 80% of people with asthma will also have hay fever. Managing hay fever symptoms can help prevent exacerbations of asthma.  

For further information please click here to see our factsheet on hay fever, or you can call the Allergy UK Helpline on 01322 619 898 or email info@allergyuk.org.

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