How will different pollen counts affect me?
If you know you're sensitive to pollen – if the pollen count forecast predicts high (H) or very high (VH) levels of pollen, then you should be prepared to experience hayfever symptoms and you may want to consider using preventative medicines (see sections below).
Reactions depend on if you are allergic or not – if you are not affected by pollen allergies, then an increased pollen count shouldn't cause you any problems. If you have a condition such as hay fever or asthma then it is likely that you will be affected by the pollen count.
How do I know if I have hayfever? – a doctor can assess you for hay fever by asking questions about your symptoms and ruling out other causes. They may ask you about conditions that you or your family members have such as asthma, eczema or other allergies. They may ask you if you experience itching in your nose, or whether antihistamines and nasal sprays help. Answering yes to these questions suggests a diagnosis of hay fever.
Allergy testing can be carried out using a skin prick test or blood test. However, this is only really necessary if it is not clear whether hay fever is the problem, or if the medicines for hay fever are not helping you.
What if I have a pollen allergy? – Pollen count is sometimes split into three types: trees, grass and weed. It is possible for you to be allergic to one or more of these types, although an allergy to grass pollen is the most common. Each has its own yearly pattern of pollen count levels.
- March to May – tree pollen.
- May to July – grass pollen.
- June to September – weed pollen.
Hay fever occurs when you have an allergy to at least one type of pollen. The higher the pollen count, the more pollen in the air. This means your symptoms will be more likely to happen or will be worse:
- Red, itchy or watery eyes
- Discomfort in the throat, nose or ears
What if I already have asthma? – if you have asthma, then your airways are very sensitive. Certain things can trigger swelling in the airways, one of which is pollen. The higher the pollen count, the more likely people with asthma are to experience symptoms:
If you experience these problems during the summer months, then it is reasonable to assume that you are affected by the pollen count.