At least 20% of us suffer from hay fever in the UK. It's increasing every year - by 2030 30 million people are expected to suffer from pollen allergies.
There is no 'cure' for hay fever - it's a case of working out what remedy, or often a combination of remedies, most effectively eases your symptoms, both during the day and at night.
Hay fever symptoms are what happens when your body's immune system goes into over-drive. Yes, your body is in fact actually working too well! Which is why hay fever is something you will 'grow out of'. As we age, our immune system starts to weaken, so you'll be pleased to know that stuffy, itchy, sneezy reaction every spring will (eventually) go away... but what about now?
There are a whole range of remedies and solutions you can try, however 'prevention is better than cure'. By figuring out which trees and grasses trigger your hay fever, you might be able to avoid them, or you'll at least know to top-up on your remedies and pop your sunglasses on!
Which pollen is getting up your nose this month?
25% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to birch tree pollen. So, if you are suffering, you are almost certainly allergic to birch pollen which is coming up to its April peak - watch out because oak trees will be flowering after - they might be your next 'pollen-enemy'.
Most hay fever sufferers are are allergic to grass pollen which is starts in May and will last right through until the end of August. May and June are often the most troublesome months as often people suffer with a combination of tree and grass pollens - a double whammy for your airways!
Take a look at our pollen calendar to see which trees, grasses and weeds are getting up your nose this month, plus those to watch out for through until the end of June.
Can you spot the trees, grasses and weeds that trigger your allergens?
Plane is the most common trees to be found in London and other cities across the UK. For those allergic to plane tree pollen their hay fever symptoms are often more aggressive. You might find, if you aren't currently commuting and working in the city, that your hay fever might not seem as bad this year... if so then plane is your pollen-enemy! You can see what plane trees look like here.
Oak tree pollen starts soon, with leaf-burst due mid-May, for those allergic to oak it won't subside until the end of June. Oak leaves have almost no stem and grow in bunches, if you're not sure what an oak tree looks like take a look here on The Woodland Trust A-Z of British Trees.
Scots Pine is the only truly native pine in the UK. It thrives in heathland and is widely planted for timber, but is also found in abundance in the Caledonian forest in the Scottish Highlands.
After pollination by wind, the female flowers turn green and develop into cones. They mature the following season, so there are always cones of different ages on the one tree. Find out more.
The Ash tree comes to an end of its pollen season in May. One of the most common trees in the UK, look out for the black buds and clusters of seeds which are key features. Find out more.
Pesky Birch pollen affects around 25% of UK hay fever sufferers, so it's worth knowing how to recognise a birch tree - especially if your hay fever is usually triggered in April with the Birch pollen bomb!
The Double Whammy of Tree + Grass Pollen in May Begins
Grass and weed pollen also become problematic in May & June for anyone with allergens. Oil seed rape, easily identified by those vivid yellow fields, have started this month. Whilst it's generally seen to be a low allergenic pollen, oil seed rape does seem to cause breathlessness, particularly with asthma sufferers.
Plantain and nettle also start in May, shortly to be followed by dock. The combination of the common tree and grass pollens is why there is often such high pollen counts in May and June.
So, keep an eye out and get to know which trees, grasses and weeds are causing your hay fever.