What pollen is around in spring?
To help you get to grips with spring allergies, this blog looks at:
- Symptoms of spring allergies
- What causes hayfever in spring
- How to tell what you're allergic to
- Why allergies are worse in spring
- How to deal with hayfever in spring.
What are the symptoms of spring allergies?
The symptoms associated with hayfever include coughing, sneezing, itchy skin and irritated eyes. As these overlap with viral symptoms, such as those caused by a cold or flu, sometimes it isn't always immediately clear what is at the root of your symptoms.
My blog 'Cold or hayfever: How to tell the difference' provides more information on this. Generally speaking, though, we would not expect a fever, sweats or chills, breathlessness or a new, continuous cough when suffering from hayfever. In these instances, it is best to seek medical attention.
What causes hayfever in spring?
In the UK Spring extends from mid-March until mid-June. You can see from the graphic below that trees and grass tend to pollinate at this time. Weeds such as dock and nettle pollinate a little later in the year – from June until October. Therefore, if you are getting symptoms in summer, this is most likely to be the cause.
The total quantity of pollen in the air and the severity of your symptoms can be influenced by additional factors, such as your location. In a town or city, for example, pollution levels tend to be higher and this is known to make symptoms more severe.
Overall pollen levels can also vary year on year, thus influencing when your hayfever symptoms develop and how bad they are. A mild winter, for example, may result in plants pollinating a little earlier than usual.
You can find a detailed, 5-day pollen count for the UK here. Simply type in your postcode and you will find details of grass, tree and weed pollen in your area. This is updated daily and includes over 30,000 locations.
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Is there any way to test what I am allergic to?
When your symptoms develop will give a reasonable indication of what you are allergic to, given that tree and grass pollinate earlier than weeds. A pollen test can be arranged but only in cases where symptoms are very severe.
Why are allergies bad in spring?
Allergies are often most severe in spring because this is when many plants pollinate. This basically means that plants release minuscule grains of pollen into the air to fertilise other plants and increase their spread.
These particles are very easy to breathe in, plus they can land on the skin. If you experience hayfever symptoms it means the immune system over-reacts to contact with these particles, causing symptoms like itchy skin.
How to deal with hayfever in spring
There are many practical steps that can be taken to help manage hayfever symptoms further.
Minimise the impact of pollen in your home:
- Keep windows closed (even at night)
- Dry washing indoors
- Takes shoes off outside, not in.
Ditch harsh cosmetic products:
- Some antiperspirants, make-up and shower gels can make hayfever symptoms like itchy skin more severe.
- Try a natural, chemical-free deodorant such as Salt of the Earth. This is anti-odor and antibacterial, whilst also being free from irritating perfume, parabens and alcohol.
Try natural remedies: