‘Thunder fever’: How storms make your hay fever worse and what to do to stop it

Thundery weather is being blamed for making 2022 a miserable year for hay fever sufferers.

The number of pollen grains in the air might not be any different to past years but their potency is believed to be stronger this summer due to a phenomenon dubbed "thunder fever".

And that has spelt trouble for those severely affected by watery eyes and sneezing fits at this time of the year.

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Hay fever is often linked to sunshine with rainy weather thought to lead to a drop in pollen counts.

But that's not always the case and thunderstorms can cause an extreme version of the allergy.

Thunder fever, which occurs before the start of a storm when the air is normally more humid, leads to classic hay fever symptoms, along with others, more regularly associated with asthma, such as a tight chest, shortness of breath and wheezing.

Explaining the phenomenon, airborne allergens expert Max Wiseberg said: "Humidity breaks pollen grains into smaller allergenic particles. So one pollen grain becomes two, which raises the pollen count.

"But these new pollen grains also turn into a kind of 'super pollen' which appears to be more allergenic than normal pollen, causing more severe reactions in sufferers. Storms cause great movements in the air, bringing pollen grains down which might have otherwise risen above head height out of harm’s way, and whipping up pollen grains near the ground.

"To make matters worse, farmers will often work hard to get their fields harvested before a storm which further increases the level of allergens in the air. And don't think that living in the city will spare you from this either; the thunderstorm can pick all this pollen up and carry it for miles before dumping it at head height in the city."

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Wiseberg suggests one of the best ways of countering thunder fever is to apply an organic allergen barrier balm around the nostrils and bones of the eyes.

He also advises putting together a hay fever kit that includes both natural and conventional remedies.

"Pharmaceutical remedies are generally based on either antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays, while natural remedies are based on physical preventative measures, immune boosters or natural antihistamines," he pointed out.

"Many of these remedies can be complementary to each other, so you can create your own, bespoke kit that suits your specific needs."

He did issue the following warning, too, though: "Never take two antihistamines together, never take two steroid nasal sprays together and consult your pharmacist or doctor about it if you are already taking another medication."

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