Hay fever sufferers know well the mixed feelings regarding summer that come with the onset of the hay fever season. Summer brings with it warmth, colour and outdoor fun, but on the other hand it causes plants to release plenty of pollen which triggers itching eyes, running noses and sneezes. All these symptoms combine to give the 10 million UK sufferers reason to reach for hay fever treatment.1
Unfortunately for those with a pollen allergy, the 2012 hay fever season has been one of the longest on record. 2 The Met Office gathered several media reports about unique combination of atmospheric and climate conditions produced the perfect starting point for plants to begin releasing their spores early in the season. Patrick Sachon, Met Office Health Business Manager, was quoted as saying: "[The wet weather is definitely helping the grass grow so if we have dry weather in May and June it would mean a high grass pollen count]". 3
The reason for this abnormally long hay fever season is not as you might expect. It was not an unusually hot summer but rather it's because of the wet months we experienced earlier on. A combination of moderate warmth with higher than normal rainfalls naturally leads to faster growth for plants such as grass (90% of hay fever sufferers being allergic to grass pollen). 4
One consolation to hay fever sufferers is that, despite the length of the pollen season, there have been plenty of days with low pollen counts due to rain suppressing its release.
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1 NHS Choices UK. (2011) Hay fever, [Online] Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx
[22 Sept 2012]
2 BBC. (2012) Hayfever sufferers' tough season [Online] Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19264794
[21st Sept 2012]
3 Met Office. (2012) http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/wet-weather-could-increase-pollen-count-in-hay-fever-season/ [21st Sept 2012]
4 NHS Choices UK. (2012) Hay fever, [Online] Available: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Causes.aspx
[19th Sept 2012)