With temperatures soaring and soaring pollen levels expected this weekend, millions of people in the UK suffering from lung disease or hay fever are being urged to take precautions.
The Met Office expects pollen levels to rise in every region of England and Wales on Friday and Saturday, with average levels in Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland.
The charity Asthma and Lung UK said more than 3 million people in the UK have lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and are at risk of seizures or fits this weekend.
People are urged to ensure they continue to use their preventative inhalers if in use and to keep their own inhaler with them at all times. Other tips include staying indoors on high pollen days and keeping an eye on the weather forecast.
Pollen can trigger symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath in more than half (59%) of people with asthma and more than a quarter of people with COPD, according to research by the charity.
Allergies can cause the airways to tighten and sticky mucus to build up, making breathing more difficult. Asthma attacks can be fatal, with around four people in the UK dying from one attack every day.
Dr Andy Whitmore, Head of Asthma and Lung UK, said: ‘When pollen levels are at their highest, this can be deadly for those with lung conditions such as asthma who can have serious symptoms and life-threatening attacks.
“These attacks can leave people fighting to breathe, which can be terrifying, but there are things they can do to take care of themselves.
“Using preventive inhalers as prescribed is important because the medication reduces sensitivity and swelling in the airways, which helps prevent symptoms like wheezing and coughing before they start.
We also advise people to carry inhalers every day, especially when going outside and enjoying the sun in case pollen is causing their symptoms to flare up. Reducing inhalers relax the muscles in the airways and relieve symptoms immediately.
“The third thing people can do is use steroid nasal sprays every day, along with non-drowsy antihistamines to help stop an allergic reaction. People should also check pollen and air pollution forecasts in their local area, so they can Avoid being outdoors as much as possible on pollen-infested days.”
The high pollen levels expected this weekend may also affect the millions of people suffering from hay fever. The condition is usually worse when it is warm, humid and windy.
With high levels expected this weekend, people may be more likely to develop symptoms including sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, itching, red or watery eyes, itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears, loss of smell, and pain around your temples. Forehead, headache, earache, fatigue. Hay fever can last for weeks or months, unlike the common cold, which usually clears up after a week or two.
There is currently no cure for hay fever, and people who suffer from it cannot prevent it. However, the NHS says there are things people can do to ease their symptoms when pollen counts are high across England and Wales on Friday and Saturday.
They include applying petroleum jelly around the nostrils to trap pollen, wearing wrap-around sunglasses to keep pollen from getting into the eyes, and showering and changing clothes after going outside to wash off the pollen.
Other tips include staying indoors whenever possible, keeping windows and doors closed as much as possible, vacuuming regularly and dusting with a damp cloth. Pharmacists can advise and suggest the best treatments, such as antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays to help treat itchy eyes, watery eyes, sneezing, and a stuffy nose.
Pollen levels are expected to remain high in England and Wales over the weekend, but are set to dip to average in north-east England on Sunday and drop to average in London and the south-east by Monday.