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Experts predict tough summer

HAY fever sufferers are in for a torrid time this summer, top specialists predicted today.

All the indications are that pollen counts will be particularly high in May, June and July, the experts warned.

"This year, especially because it's been so mild, we're expecting the hay fever to be much worse," consultant medical allergist at the Clontarf Clinic, Dr Ranbir Kaulsay, said.

And the bad news is that sufferers can't avoid inhaling the microscopic particles as they are airborne.

Unfortunately for students, the allergic reaction will be at its most acute during exam time.

"It's becoming more and more of a problem because the peak of hay fever tends to coincide with the big exams, the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert. From May and June, we expect the pollen levels to be extreme," Dr Kaulsay said.

Symptoms can range from a stuffy nose to sneezing, itchy eyes and severe nasal congestion.

One of the most effective remedies, immunotherapy, is started several months in advance de-sensitising patients to pollen by exposing them to large doses of the substance.

The medication is placed under the tongue every day and is taken throughout the year for three years.

Other remedies include antihistamines and nasal decongestion sprays.