Climate Change Is Making Hay Fever Worse, Here's How

The earth is burning and so are our eyes.
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Has your hay fever got worse in recent years? Climate change could be to blame.

As the UK recovers from the hottest temperatures ever recorded, a team of researchers from several UK universities has investigated the links between climate change and our seasonal sniffles.

The team, led by pollen forecaster Dr Beverley Adams-Groom from the University Of Worcester, found that “climate change is having an impact upon pollen production, dispersal, timing and season duration in various countries”.

In the UK in particular, increased incidences of hot, sunny days has caused “important changes” in the pollen season, that have “the potential to impact on the health of hay fever and pollen asthma sufferers”.

Production of Betula pollen (birch tree pollen) has increased overall each year due to rising temperatures. Meanwhile Quercus pollen (oak tree pollen) season is starting earlier and lasting longer.

It means sufferers could be subject to a “double-hit” as the seasons become longer and overlap, according to Dr Sophie Farooque, hay fever expert and author of Understanding Allergy.

“You can end up breathing in both pollens simultaneously, rather than having a bit of a break from one to the next,” she told the BBC.

Interestingly, grass pollen season hasn’t changed as dramatically, but the latest research does suggest the first “high count” day is getting earlier each year.

Previous research has also indicted that the CO2 emissions we generate by burning fossil fuels can also contribute towards hay fever suffering.

“Human activities have increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases,” Amena Warner from Allergy UK previously told HuffPost UK.

“Studies show plants produce more pollen as a response to high atmospheric levels of CO2, so people may find their hay fever is worse when pollution levels are high, especially in warm weather.”

Horticulturists have also blamed “boy trees” and “botanical sexism” for contributing towards hay fever woes.

City planners have been guilty of favouring male trees in recent years, because they do not produce fruits, seeds or pods like their female counterparts, meaning there is less debris where these trees grow, keeping streets clean.

However, male trees end up releasing plenty of pollen into the air instead. And flowers from the female trees are needed to capture the pollen, to bring it down to normal levels.

So, what are we to do?

Clearly, the latest study shows yet another reason why we need urgent action to tackle climate change. But until world leaders get on with the job, here are some doctor-approved tips for managing your hay fever symptoms.

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