Sunday 18 February 2018

Third of us struck by hay fever as pollen counts on rise

Hay fever sufferers could be set to double by 2040
Hay fever sufferers could be set to double by 2040

Michael Staines and Allison Bray

NEARLY a third of the country is in the grip of hay fever, with more high pollen counts forecast for the coming week.

The dry sunny weather has been causing misery for the 30pc of people in Ireland suffering from 'allergic rhinitis', or hay fever as it is commonly known.

Ireland has one of the highest instances of the allergy worldwide

Dr Ranbir Kaulsay of the Clontarf Clinic in Dublin said that, on a global level, the number of hay fever sufferers could be set to double by 2040.

"We certainly are looking at a worldwide increase in hay fever and unfortunately the numbers are increasing exponentially," said Dr Kaulsay.

"There are a number of factors for why that might be. The main one for me would be global environmental changes. The fact is we have a change in the pollen patterns. We know that the count is getting higher and we know climate change has something to do with it."

It's not just our environment that may be changing, however, according to the doctor. He also pointed out genetics, air pollution, an overuse of antibiotics and the way we raise our children may also be to blame. "The old, 'farm-like,' way of growing up was actually the healthiest," said Dr Kaulsay.

"Young children would have been exposed to a lot more bugs and pets and you wouldn't have been using so much disinfectant.

"All of that is healthy for boosting the immune system's development. That is the primary cause of an increase in allergies and that would apply to everything from asthma to allergic rhinitis."

Hay fever sufferers will join farmers and gardeners in breathing a sigh of relief as light showers move in as this week progresses.

But temperatures will remain mild through the weekend as the recent spate of warm, dry weather comes to an end starting today, according to Met Eireann forecaster Eoin Sherlock.

While temperatures will remain mild, clouds will start to move in this morning with Ulster and north Leinster expected to get some patchy rain or drizzle, especially along the east coast, he said.

Sunday is expected to be fairly dry nationwide, with just the odd shower, he added.

Irish Independent

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