People with asthma urged to take precautions as pollen…

Map reveals Britain’s biggest hay fever hotspots: Met Office warns of high pollen levels from TODAY – as experts say it ‘could be deadly’ for millions of asthma and lung disease sufferers

  • Met Office predicts high levels across all of England and Wales today, Saturday
  • Pollen levels to remain high in Wales through Sunday but fall slightly in England
  • More than 3m people in the UK have lung conditions that could suffer flare-ups

Millions of Britons with asthma, lung conditions or hay fever have been warned that high pollen levels this weekend could put them at risk.

The Met Office is predicting high levels across every area of ​​England and Wales today and Saturday, with medium levels in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Pollen levels are expected to remain high in Wales through to Sunday but are forecast to drop to medium in every part of England except the South West.

The charity Asthma and Lung UK said more than three million people in the UK have lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who are at risk of attacks or flare-ups.

People are being urged to ensure they keep on taking their preventer inhalers if they use them and to keep the inhaler with them at all times.

Other tips include staying indoors on high pollen days and keeping an eye on weather forecasts to check the forecast.

Pollen can trigger symptoms such as a tight chest, wheezing and breathlessness in more than half of people living with asthma (59 per cent) and more than a quarter of those living with COPD, according to research from the charity.

The Met Office is predicting high levels across every area of ​​England and Wales today and Saturday

The Met Office is predicting high levels across every area of ​​England and Wales today and Saturday

Medium levels are expected in Scotland and Northern Ireland on Saturday

Medium levels are expected in Scotland and Northern Ireland on Saturday

Pollen levels are expected to remain high in Wales through to Sunday but are forecast to drop to medium in every area of ​​England except the South West

Pollen levels are expected to remain high in Wales through to Sunday but are forecast to drop to medium in every area of ​​England except the South West

Asthma attacks can be fatal, with around four people in the UK dying from one every day.

Allergies can cause airways to tighten up and a build-up of sticky mucus, making it harder to breathe.

Hay fever tablets run low across the country due to ingredient shortage

Hay fever tablets are running low across the country due to an ingredient shortage – and the timing couldn’t be worse as pollen levels rise.

Stocks of chlorphenamine maleate — an active ingredient in Piriton medication and other such remedies — are widely limited.

Piriton tablets for adults are out of stock online at Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and Coop Pharmacy, although their syrups for children are still available.

It comes as drug shortages in England reach their worst level ever, with HRT, steroids and blood pressure drugs also affected.

About 500,000 patients in England are being stung by shortages, which have been blamed on the rising cost of raw materials, post-Brexit trade rule changes and Covid lockdowns in China.

The shortages seem to be only in medications containing chlorphenamine maleate, with other types of antihistamines more readily available.

It is understood that tablets using cetirizine hydrochloride are in good supply, which includes Allacan, Benadryl, Piriteze and own-brand varieties.

Both cetirizine and chlorphenamine can be used to treat hay fever, but people often find that one is more suited to them, the NHS says.

Medication using cetirizine hydrochloride is less likely to make someone feel sleepy as a side effect.

Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead for Asthma and Lung UK, said: ‘When pollen levels are at their highest this can be deadly for those with lung conditions like asthma who can suffer serious symptoms and have life-threatening attacks.

‘These attacks can leave people fighting for breath, which can be terrifying, but there are things they can do to look after themselves.

‘Using your preventer inhalers as prescribed is important as the medicine reduces sensitivity and swelling in the airways, helping to prevent symptoms such as wheezing and coughing before they even start.

‘We also advise people to carry their reliever inhalers every day, especially when they are out and about enjoying the sunshine in case pollen does cause a flare-up of their symptoms.

‘Reliever inhalers quickly relax the muscles in the airways and ease symptoms immediately.

‘The third thing people can do is use a steroid nasal spray every day, together with non-drowsy antihistamine tablets to help stop the allergic reaction.

‘People should also check pollen and air pollution forecasts in their local area, so they can avoid going outdoors as much as possible on high pollen days.’

High pollen levels could also cause misery for millions of people with hay fever, who suffer streaming noses and itchy eyes.

Hay fever can last for weeks or, unlike a cold, which months normally goes away within a week.

Hay fever symptoms begin when immune cells, B lymphocytes, mistakenly identify pollen proteins as a threat and make antibodies that trigger chemicals called histamines.

These make the blood vessels dilate, prompting the release of fluid from capillaries, triggering a runny nose, sneezing and weeping eyes.

There is currently no cure and hay fever tablets are running low across the country due to an ingredient shortage.

Stocks of chlorphenamine maleate — an active ingredient in Piriton medication and other such remedies — are widely limited.

Piriton tablets for adults are out of stock online at Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and Coop Pharmacy, although their syrups for children are still available.

But the NHS says there are things people can do to ease their symptoms when the pollen count is high this weekend.

They include putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen, wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in the eyes and showering and changing clothes after being outside to wash pollen off.

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