Weather and hay fever

The hay fever season can last from March to October and some unlucky people only get a break from symptoms in winter.

If your allergy symptoms are due to pollen alone, you won't have symptoms in November, December and January. In Britain, plants do not release pollen in these months.

So, if you have symptoms during the winter, you haven’t got hay fever. You may have an allergy to something other than pollen, such as pet fur or house dust mites.

How weather affects hay fever

Rain makes a difference to hay fever symptoms because it washes pollen out of the air. Less pollen is released on cooler, cloudy days than on hot, sunny days.

The longer-term effects of climate change mean that the pollen season has become longer, and many people's hay fever symptoms also last longer.

If you live near the coast and the wind is blowing off the sea and onto the land, the air will be fairly clear so your symptoms may not be as bad. However, if you're on the coast and the wind is blowing off-shore, the pollen count will be higher.

How can you limit your pollen exposure?

Pollens are released in the early morning. As the air warms up, they get carried up into the air above our heads. As evening comes and the air cools down, the pollen comes back down.

This means symptoms are usually worse first thing in the morning and in the evening, particularly on days that have been warm and sunny.

Follow these tips to reduce your exposure to pollen:

  • Keep windows closed at night so pollen doesn’t enter the house.
  • Buy a pair of wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen entering your eyes. 
  • Smear petroleum jelly around the inside of your nose to trap pollen and stop it being inhaled.
  • Wash your hair, hands and face when you come back indoors and change your clothes. If possible, don't dry clothes outside.
  • Use air filters to reduce pollen that is floating around the house.
  • Keep car windows shut when driving.
  • Don't mow the grass or do other work in the garden.
  • Avoid fields and large areas of grassland.

Read five lifestyle tips to reduce your hay fever symptoms.

Page last reviewed: 23/05/2012

Next review due: 23/05/2014

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