Sneezing summer for hay fever sufferers

Hay fever sufferers, reach for your hankies — it could be a bad one.

Forecasters in Britain have warned that weather conditions could lead to an expansion of high pollen ‘hot spots’ there.

The Irish pollen count is calculated by a unit at the University of Worcester, although it is understood that the forecast for this summer has not yet been finalised.

However, similar weather patterns to those forecast for Britain could lead to a similarly high pollen count — bad news for the one-in-five Irish people estimated to suffer to some extent from hay fever.

Yesterday, Dublin-based allergy expert Dr Caroline Dore Geraghty said hay fever was “often under-diagnosed, under-treated and underestimated in its severity,” while a new survey showed the negative effects on sufferers.

The survey, by Empathy Research on behalf of Prevalin, showed that 26% of those questioned took time off work due to hay fever, while almost 60% experienced sleep deprivation, a quarter of respondents admitting to arguing with their partner and nearly 20% said they avoided sex due to the effects of hay fever.

The symptoms affect the daily lives of 78% of sufferers, according to the survey, with more than one-third of sufferers claiming that it affected their driving.

Itchy or watery eyes was given as the worst symptom of hay fever by the majority of respondents, while other effects were skipping meals, exercise or social events.

Dr Dore Geraghty said that while it’s close to impossible for sufferers to avoid pollen completely throughout the summer months, steps could be taken to limit its impact, including keeping windows closed during pollen season, staying indoor in the early morning, wearing wrap-around sunglasses and avoiding mowing the lawn — not that many householders need an excuse to avoid that particular chore.

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