Pollen: How do you survive hayfever season?
Who better to explain hayfever than Derek Brockway At a glance BBC Wales weather presenter Derek Brockway looks at how the pollen count affects people with hayfever Pets as well as humans can get hayfever, so a vet suggests cleaning their paws when they come inside Climate change is likely to make pollen season more intense It's hay fever season - the time of year when many of us will have itchy, red eyes, runny noses and sneezing fits. It is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen - the fine powder released by plants, trees and grass. I've had hay fever since I was a little boy and, especially in the spring and summer, I have to check if the pollen count is high before I leave the house. I often mention the pollen count during my weather forecasts on radio and TV. For people like me, it's valuable information. If the pollen count is high, I can be prepared by using a nasal spray or sometimes taking a hay fever tablet. I can then go outside without worrying about how pollen will affect my health. But how can we predict if the pollen count will be high? Beverley Adams-Groom uses a special device to measure the pollen count Top tips for hay fever sufferers during the summer. Video, 00:00:28 Top tips for hay fever sufferers during the summer Hay fever sufferers seeking NHS advice triples Hay fever warning over predicted birch pollen high Dr Beverley Adams-Groom leads the team that works with the Met Office to provide the UK's pollen forecast. It's measured by a device called a Seven Day Volumetric Pollen Sampler, on the roof of the University of Worcester. There are a number of these at sites across the UK, including one in Cardiff. "Basically we have a pollen trap, that's 10m (32ft) above sea level on average, depending on the site, and inside that trap is a sticky surface, based on a clockwork mechanism. That clockwork turns the piece of tape around into the airstream and over a 24 hour period we can collect the pollen. Then we pop that piece of tape under the microscope on a slide and we count every two hours and from that we get the daily pollen count in cubic metres per air. "High pollen count is over 50 and a very high pollen count is over 150." "Pollen data is one element of the pollen forecast. We have a look at the pollen trends of the data that has come into us. "Then we can say if it's on the rise or decreasing or plateauing. "We combine that with the weather forecast for a few days ahead and we have a look to see whether that trend is likely to continue." Climate change is impacting the pollen season Tree pollen usually arrives before grass, typically from late March to mid-May. Then grass normally lasts from mid-May until July. Weed pollen is another type that generally arrives at the end of June and stays until September. Climate change can impact the pollen season - making it more intense. Dr Adams-Groom says this is affecting tree pollen in Wales. "For the birch pollen, it's getting more severe over time. Statistically significant increases over time and that is connected with climate change. "We can see that the temperatures in June of the previous summer, when the pollen is produced in plants, are increasing and that is allowing the trees to produce more pollen. "But for grass pollen we're not seeing any increases." This video can not be played Top tips for hay fever sufferers I wanted to find out how other people like me cope with their allergies during hay fever season. I've come to Cyfarthfa Park in Merthyr Tydfil, where the flowers are blooming, to meet Jo Cole. Jo has asthma and pollen can cause her serious health problems. "When the pollen count is high, the usual symptoms of hay fever, the watery itchy eyes, the runny nose, the cough. "For me with asthma it's more the effect on my breathing. "So I get a wheeze, which then if not kept under control, will lead to shortness of breath as I'm moving and walking and that then would restrict the airways and could potentially lead to an attack." Thankfully the pollen count is low when we meet up, so Jo and I can enjoy being outdoors. But if it was high she would not have been able to come. "Obviously we're surrounded by tree pollen and the grass has recently been cut so I wouldn't usually choose to be in this area. "For me, being somewhere like a beach or a concrete area is better for me when the pollen is high." "It's frightening, you know, you want to be able to get on with daily life without being worried about what's around you. "It's a bit of the unknown really. So I do check what the count's looking like. I need to make sure I'm going to be safe on my day out." And, like me, Jo has to be prepared. "I think it's about making sure you've got all of your airways covered. "So it's not just your nose, it's your throat, it's your chest, it's your airways. "I think we all think it's easier to pop a tablet sometimes, but I think things like nasal sprays, eye drops, make sure all your affected areas are covered. "And especially for people with asthma, always have your pumps with you." Derek and vet Richard Williams with Shadz the dog And it's not just humans who suffer with hay fever, but our four-legged friends as well. I asked Dr Richard Williams, a vet at Vale Veterinary Centre, says he does see pets with allergies, that are sensitive to pollen - I asked him what the symptoms are. "Similar symptoms to ourselves: runny eyes, rubbing of the face. "One thing people don't pick up at first with dogs is chewing of the feet as well. "The contact with long grasses will irritate the feet and you'll see them nibbling away. "It can be a subtle sign that something needs to be sorted." So what are the remedies? "A bowl with some warm water in, just to wash off those allergens. I wouldn't advise splashing the face like we would do. "And of course speak to your vet. There may be medications we can use but invariably avoidance is key." And Richard says it's not just dogs that get hay fever. "Cats can be affected as well. Even with indoor cats as you start to open up your windows in the spring, you see cats overgrooming, rubbing their eyes. "A wet flannel may be used to wipe them down, especially if they're an outdoor cat and they've come in from playing in long grass." Erika Radford said it is important to keep an eye on the pollen forecast So, knowing in advance when the pollen count will be high is important if you or your family has allergies. Erika Radford, head of health advice at Asthma and Lung UK, says as well as taking hay fever medicine there are a number of top tips that can help you avoid the effects of pollen. "Keep an eye on the pollen forecast every day, so you can be prepared for example if you think the pollen count's going to be high in your area that day." She suggests "having a shower when you get in from outside" and avoid drying laundry outside if the pollen count is high. "Keep doors and windows closed to stop it coming into your house," she says. Good suggestions for people with hay fever like me - especially in our changing climate. With warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers predicted, we are likely to see more intense pollen seasons in the future. Hay fever: Grass pollen DNA study could help sufferers School meals inadequate, say Powys family Is hayfever getting worse in the UK Met Office Morocco rescuers dig with bare hands as foreign aid sent US denies Cold War with China in historic Vietnam visit How Russia and West agreed on Ukraine G20 language Florida's first hurricane-proof town The greatest spy novel ever written? Why is everyone crazy about Aperol? 2023 BBC.