Get ready as hayfever season starts early

Tissues at the ready as hayfever season starts early triggered by the cold winter

For most hayfever sufferers, the only silver lining is that spring has finally arrived. Think again. Thanks to the recent cold snap, experts are predicting an early start to the hayfever season.

According to The National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, a cold winter encourages birch trees to pollinate early, as they need cold weather to lift them from dormancy.

Professor Jean Emberlin, who was involved with the research, said: ‘The timing of pollen will vary and is highly dependent on the harshness of the preceding winter. If we have a mild winter then pollen arrives later by up to two weeks.’

She adds: ‘Birch trees tend to pollinate more heavily biannually and this year it is likely to be high. In 2010 it is anticipated the birch pollen will start arriving in March with very high counts in many areas.’

A spokesperson for Allergy UK said: ‘It is quite possible that we will see people reacting much earlier than they would normally. We can provide advice on diagnosis and treatment.’

Symptoms of hayfever include sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes. The condition affects about one in five adults in the UK and seems to be becoming more common, especially in children.

There’s a range of treatments available. You can buy some of these in shops and supermarkets. Others are available in pharmacies, while for some you will need a prescription from your GP.

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