Why is my hayfever so bad this year?

10 July 2018

Question

Why is my hayfever so bad this year?

Answer

Chris Smith asked this question to Plant Ecologist Howard Griffiths and GP Laurence Kemp

Howard - I think I better just say, first of all, I'm speaking from the plant perspective and we may be better ask Laurence to give us to the more medically based solution. But I think it's probably due to the fact in the UK we had a rather late spring this year and then it suddenly went very dry. And so we've had a very short growing season. And there are some plants which are wind pollinated, which means that they produce huge amounts of pollen, which can then be dispersed on the wind to find the female parts of adjacent flowers. Plants like many trees and many grasses, of course. And so I think that the problem has been that there's just been not much rain to wash that pollen out so there’s just been a huge amount around.

Chris - And is that your experience, Laurence, you seeing lots of patients complaining of hay fever symptoms?

Laurence - Yeah. I mean much more than the normal. I’ve been a GP in South Cambridgeshire for 7 years and this is definitely the worst year. So normally, probably this time of year, maybe four or five consultations a week with people with hay fever problems. I think we’re kind of more like 20, 25 at the minute. Certainly a bad year for it.

Chris - And if you see a patient with those symptoms, what's your advice?

Laurence - For the majority of people with hay fever, and remember it's a really common condition, about one in four people suffer with hay fever, most people it can be fairly mild. They can get an antihistamine from the chemist, maybe a steroid nasal sprays, some eye drops. It's only a small minority of people who are going to get more significant symptoms that’s going to need to come see a doctor. And actually if they see me, generally speaking, it's just similar types of products but a little bit stronger prescription strength, more potent antihistamine. Usually we can get it fairly under control. You know the good thing is it's something that goes away after a few weeks usually anyway.


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