Why is your hay fever so goddamn awful this year?

All the reasons your pollen allergy might’ve been particularly bad recently

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham
News Editor, Time Out UK and Time Out London
Field of flowers
Photograph: Shutterstock

You woke up with it all a couple of weeks ago and it hasn’t stopped since. Itchy eyes, snot streaming out of your nose, maybe even some light asthma. Hay fever can be a bloomin’ nightmare at the best of times, but over the past few weeks it seems to have really ramped up a notch. So why is hay fever so bad this year?

Well, the short answer is that it probably isn’t worse right now than any other year. But there are things that, in recent weeks, have likely been making it feel a bit worse. For one, in the south-east of England it has recently been both sunny and windy. Pollen is released when it’s sunny and is easily blown around, so sun plus wind is a pretty shitty combo.

We’re also currently in the midst of prime grass pollen season, so you might be finding it extra tough if you’re particularly sensitive to grass pollen. This usually lasts until July, while pollen from weeds occurs most between June and September.

Hay fever is essentially an allergy to pollen and it occurs because of pollen being released from trees, grass, flowers and the like. While some people are allergic to many types of pollen, most often they’re only sensitive to a few limited kinds. In other words, people can react differently in different years and at different points in the season.

On top of all that, hay fever is often worse for people who live in big cities. When pollen mixes with diesel fuel fumes it apparently becomes heavier and stickier and hovers in the air for longer. There are, however, plenty of other factors that can affect the intensity of your fever, including things like diet and stress.

So, what can you do to counter all this? Well, loads of stuff. You can take antihistamines, obvs, or use things like nasal spray. You can also use eye drops to reduce itching (for extra satisfaction, keep the drops in the fridge) and wear sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes. Another good tip is to shower and change clothes if you’ve spent lots of time outside in pollen-heavy environments.

Or, of course, you can simply stay inside when the pollen count is particularly high. For more info on that, you can see the Met Office’s forecast here.

ICYMI: a gigantic and spectacular flower display will soon take over this European capital.

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