A “pollen bomb” is hitting parts of the UK, bringing fresh misery for hay fever sufferers, with forecasts suggesting there could be a heatwave next week.

The Met Office has warned the pollen count will be very high in England for the next five days, extending to Wales and Northern Ireland from Saturday onwards. By Monday, all but the northernmost parts of Scotland will be affected. Tomorrow is “Hay Day”, traditionally one of the worst days of the year for hay fever.

Asthma + Lung UK is urging people with respiratory conditions to take precautions in the week ahead. The charity’s research suggests pollen is a trigger for 47% of people with asthma and 27% of those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This can cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, a tight chest, and breathlessness to flare up.

Erika Radford, the organisation’s head of health advice, stated, “When pollen particles are breathed in, they can cause inflammation in the airways and get into the lungs, making it harder for those with lung conditions to breathe. This can be terrifying.”

Asthma sufferers have been urged to use their preventer inhaler every day as prescribed, and keep a reliever inhaler nearby at all times, even when at home. Britons who suffer from hay fever can take antihistamines, ask their GP to prescribe a steroid nasal spray, and avoid going outside as much as possible on high pollen days.

Other top tips for beating the pollen include:

  • Not hanging your washing outdoors
  • Having a shower when you’ve been outside
  • Keeping windows and doors closed
  • Vacuuming and wiping down surfaces regularly
  • Taking antihistamines four weeks before symptoms start.

Eating apples and red onions has also been suggested as a way of lowering histamine levels.

Heatwave on the horizon

Meanwhile, the Met Office is forecasting higher temperatures as we head into next week, with 30°C (86°F) possible in isolated spots. While Friday and Saturday are looking less settled, fine conditions are set to return on Sunday, and temperatures could be in the mid-20s for many in the days that follow.

Chief forecaster Neil Armstrong said: “Some central and southern areas are likely to see temperatures approaching the values needed for heatwave conditions. Heatwave conditions need to remain in situ for three consecutive days, and by the middle of next week, it is possible that some parts of the UK could be reaching heatwave thresholds.” He anticipates “the finest conditions and highest temperatures so far this year” – but lower overnight temperatures are set to offer some respite for those who struggle with the heat.

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