Hay Fever Sufferers Warned As Pollen Season Comes Three Weeks Early
If you've had a runny nose or itchy eyes over the past few days then you might want to stay indoors this Easter, because hay fever season has started three weeks early this year.
Thanks to the warm winter the UK has experienced, up to 18 million Brits could be struggling with hay fever symptoms if they plan to spend time outdoors this Easter.
The record for the warmest winter day in UK history was broken twice in February, with temperatures reaching as high as 21C.
But, while many Brits enjoyed basking in the out-of-season sunshine, the sunny days also caused the trees to prematurely develop pollen-holding catkins, releasing pollen earlier than usual - yet another adjustment that has been linked to climate change.
As a result, that means birch tree pollen, which is said to trigger symptoms in one in four hay fever sufferers, is already being released into the atmosphere in the UK.
"It was a very warm February and it certainly gave the trees a big boost in terms of catkin development," allergy expert Dr Jean Emberlin told Metro.
"When you get warmth like that in winter, it gives the trees a real push to open up and start releasing pollen.
"We had some bad weather at the beginning of March which temporarily put a halt to it, or we could have seen a very, very, very early birch pollen season."
Ordinarily, the pollen season starts in the second week of April in southern England, but this year trees in the south started releasing pollen form the 24th March, around three weeks early.
Now, trees as far north as Newcastle have started releasing pollen and it's expected that trees in Scotland will begin to do same within the next week.
Dr Emberlin added that pollen counts could be set to soar during the Easter holidays thanks to a spell of dry and windy weather - the perfect weather conditions for pollen to be released into the air.
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