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Hay fever

What is hay fever?

Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) is an allergy caused by pollen grains released during the pollen season which normally runs from March to November in the UK.

Hay fever symptoms

Common hay fever symptoms include sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, mouth and throat. Less common hay fever symptoms are headaches and hives.

Pollen forecast

To get the latest pollen forecast, view our Pollen forecast which provides a UK forecast of the pollen count and provides any hay fever sufferers with an early warning.

Pollen Count

The “pollen count” is literally the amount of pollen per cubic metre observed over 24 hours. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “pollen forecast” but the pollen count is used, along with what the weather is up to, to forecast pollen levels over the coming days. The 'forecast' is actually a forecast of the risk of the level of pollen over the coming days.

When is the pollen count considered high?

This depends on the type of pollen, but once counted, the number of particles is represented per cubic metre. Hay fever symptoms usually appear when the pollen count exceeds 50.

  • Grass - a reading between 50 and 150 grains of grass pollen per cubic metre is considered high.
  • Birch - a reading between 81 and 200 is high

While this is how we define a 'High' reading, it's worth noting that different people have different tolerance to different pollen types and counts, so some will be more sensitive than others.

Hay fever relief

Although it is very difficult to avoid exposure to pollen there are a number of measures you can take that will help you to minimise exposure and ease the severity of your hay fever symptoms. Take a look at the advice from the NHS.

Download the Met Office Weather App to keep up to date with pollen levels.