Gather your hankies and boxes of tissues, warn experts. Hay fever is expected earlier than usual.
Milder winters and an earlier spring may give allergy sufferers more to sneeze at, as allergens such as the pollen of alder and hazel have already been observed in the air. Experts made this observation from The National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at the University of Worcester.
AdvertisementAn estimated 12 million Britons are affected by hay fever, with most cases triggered by grass pollen.
However, around 25 per cent of those with the allergy are sensitive to tree pollen, particularly that from birch trees. Experts say if winters turn out milder, the birch pollen season may start much earlier than the traditional date.
Allergy UK spokesman Lindsey McManus says the changing climate could lead to constant problems for those with both hay fever and other allergies.
'There is a condition called rhinitis which causes people to suffer from mould problems in the winter and pollen in the summer. Because winters are milder and spring earlier, we are seeing an increase in people suffering from this all year round.' she says.
Millions of Britons are currently struck down with colds and flu, so many could go straight from a cold to hay fever.