HAYFEVER sufferers have been warned it could be one of the worst seasons on record for pollen.

The forecasters at the University of Worcester are warning we could be about to experience one of the worst seasons for birch pollen on record.

According to the forecasters, this will have a particular effect on the 25 per cent of hay fever sufferers that are allergic to birch pollen.

Dr Beverley Adams-Groom, senior pollen forecaster at the University of Worcester, said: “This season has the potential to be severe for birch pollen in much of the UK, due to a combination of factors.

"Firstly, higher than average temperatures last June, when the pollen is produced, allowed greater potential for high pollen levels.

"Secondly, birch trees have a biennial pattern of pollen production, one mild year and one severe year, and this year was already expected to be a high year.”

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The University of Worcester has been producing pollen forecasts for the country since 1995 in conjunction with the Met Office.

Dr Adams-Groom said: “Summers are often getting warmer, allowing increasing pollen production. We have already seen the hazel and alder tree pollen allergens, which flower in late winter, produce and emit particularly high amounts of pollen this year. 

“The only limiting factor could be if we have a particularly wet April, which might limit pollen dispersal, but assuming we have a normal level of rainfall in April the result will be a severe season, certainly the severest we have had in recent years.”

She advised people to keep an eye on the pollen forecasts and pollen calendars available at the University of Worcester website: www.worcester.ac.uk/pollen.

It is recommended that hay fever sufferers start their treatment in advance of the season.

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Dr Adams-Groom said: “In a severe year with very high pollen levels, such as we are likely to see this birch pollen season, there are three effects.

"Firstly, hay fever sufferers are likely to suffer on more days during the season; secondly, people who are less sensitized are more likely to get symptoms and, thirdly, sufferers are more likely to find breakthrough symptoms as their medication cannot deal with all the pollen.

"In that case, additional treatments may be required, and sufferers are advised to seek advice from a pharmacist."

Dr Adams-Groom said it was too early to predict this year’s grass pollen season, which is influenced by the weather of the preceding months.