Why is my hay fever so bad?

THIS YEAR, people could be facing a double whammy as the peak pollen season collides with hot, humid weather and the easing of lockdown.

But why is lockdown, the weather and climate change all making us more snuffly than ever outdoors?

How long will the season last?

Hay fever affects about a quarter of the population and the first pollen to come around is tree pollen, typically from late March to mid-May.

Grass has two peaks, from mid-May until July, and weed pollen covers the end of June to September.

Hay fever is usually worse when it's warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.

However, dependent upon where you live in the UK, the hay fever season will start at different times.

There’s a later start and shorter season in the north of the UK, where generally there is less pollen. Urban areas have lower counts than the countryside, and places inland have higher counts than around the coast.

For grass pollen, the peak across England and Wale is usually in the first two weeks of June.

These peaks may be masked by how wet, dry, warm or cold it is, and the timing of the peaks very much depends on the weather during spring and early summer.

Is there more pollen in the air than before?

We’re currently at the peak of the pollen season, so it’s understandable that hay fever will be rearing it’s snotty, itchy head.

Above this, at the moment there’s also a reported pollen bomb exacerbating symptoms.

With rainy days dominating the last month, the effects of pollen weren’t as severe. Now the weather has warmed up, there’s no masking it.

Another theory says climate change could be making each season longer and stronger.

Warmer temperatures lead to more pollen production, so 2021 may be the most intense allergy season yet. 

A recent study found that pollen season increased by 20 days annually between 1990 and 2018, while pollen concentrations in North America increased 21 percent over the same time period.

The pollen in the air may also be increasingly potent and thus more allergenic, the study found.

Climate change “is the dominant driver of changes in pollen season length and a significant contributor to increasing pollen concentrations,” the study authors wrote.

“Our results indicate that human-caused climate change has already worsened North American pollen seasons, and climate-driven pollen trends are likely to further exacerbate respiratory health impacts in coming decades.”

Has lockdown affected hay fever?

A combination of wet weather followed by intensely hot weather as well as staying doors and taking extra precautions to keep hands washed may very likely mean we're feeling hay fever more than ever now.

Staying indoors more than normal for the time of year due to lockdown restrictions and coronavirus precautions from March to April meant we didn't notice those first few grass spores coming up in from March.

Now that we're out and about socialising outdoors and enjoying the sunshine, it will very likely feel like many people's first exposure to pollen this year, at the time when it's at its peak.

What are hay fever remedies?


Over-the-counter allergy medication is the first port of call for anyone who suffers with hay fever.

Branded options include Clarityn, Piriton, and Benadryl, or you can opt for unbranded loratadine or cetirizine hydrochloride which work just the same.

Barrier balms

If you know the pollen count is high, a barrier balm like Haymax can be rubbed under your nose to reduce pollen entering your body.

You can also apply barrier balms around the eye sockets if that’s where you seem to be affected.

Eye drops

Red eyes isn’t ideal, and high street pharmacies sell a number of drops which can relieve dryness, itching, and other associated side effects of hay fever.

Although they won’t rid you of it completely, they should reduce discomfort.

Nasal sprays

Brands like Beconase sell sprays you can use up your nose to reduce symptoms of hay fever.

They act like a barrier balm (just in a sprayable format) and stop pollen getting in, so hopefully no more sinus pain and runny noses.

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