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Pollen warning for allergy sufferers

Alert network says grass pollens are particularly high in the south-west

Hay fever sufferers will know it already but the pollen season has started in earnest across the country and people are suffering coughs, sneezing, itching eyes and runny noses.

People in the south-west are particularly badly affected by grass pollen and the Réseau National de Surveillance Aérobiologique says the region is very high risk for sufferers, who should avoid hard physical effort outdoors if possible.

The RNSA publishes pollen maps and it says the south-west area from Landes to Lozère and down to Pyrénées-Orientales is very high risk.

Recent showery/sunny weather helps grasses to grow and as soon as a sunny period starts, the pollen disperses.

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It is thought that one in five people have pollen-related allergies and these are thought to be contributing to a rise in the number of food allergies as some pollen species, especially birch (bouleau), have the same allergic response as fruit and nuts.

The main pollen species producing at the moment are grasses (graminées), oak (chêne), olive (olivier), docks and sorrels (rumex) and nettles (urticacées). Grass pollens dominate.

Allergy sufferers can minimise exposure by wearing glasses to avoid pollen getting in the eyes, and wearing a hat and washing hair to avoid pollens sticking, as well as airing houses first thing in the morning when there are fewer pollens in the air. Smoking is blamed for provoking stronger reactions.

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