Brits are being threatened by a potentially deadly “pollen bomb” that could put millions at risk of life-threatening asthma attacks.
Experts say hay fever season has landed in the country earlier than normal this year as it enters spring after an unusually warm winter where temperatures soared to 21C.
It means birch tree pollen — which affects one in four hay fever sufferers in Europe — is already being released across the country, The Sun reports.
Experts say that’s bad news for the 3.3 million people whose asthma is worsened by pollen and warn sufferers to take extra care.
Sonia Munde, head of services Asthma UK, told the publication: “A deadly pollen bomb is due to hit this week, putting people with asthma at risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
“Around 3.3 million people with asthma are affected by pollen, which can cause symptoms such as wheezing, a tight chest or coughing.
“Trees have been releasing their pollen for several weeks, but the warm spring weather is going to make these pollen levels spike.
“If you’re already getting symptoms, it’s not too late to help yourself stay well.
“Take your prescribed preventer medicine to soothe your irritated airways so you’re less likely to react to the pollen trigger.
“Take hay fever medicines such as antihistamines as they stop the allergic reaction that triggers asthma symptoms and keep itchy eyes and runny noses at bay.
“Everyone with asthma should keep their blue reliever inhaler with them at all times in case of an emergency.”
Usually, birch pollen is only released into the air for around four weeks every year.
A third of sufferers say their hay fever has gotten worse in recent years.
But a premature spell of dry, sunny, warm weather can bring hay fever season forward — extending the months of irritable misery suffered by thousands.
Pollen forecaster and hay fever expert Dr Beverley Adams-Groom said: “We are likely to see an early start to the birch pollen season, which affects around 25 per cent of hay fever sufferers in the spring.
“The grass pollen season (usually starting in late May/early June) could be on the early side too, but it’s too soon to say because it’s the weather in late March and April that mainly affects it.”
Allergy expert Dr Jean Emberlin said: “When you get warmth like that in winter, it gives the trees a real push to open up and start releasing pollen.
“We had some bad weather at the beginning of March which temporarily put a halt to it, or we could have seen a very, very early birch pollen season.”
Dr Emberlin warned a spell of dry and windy weather could be the “perfect storm” for pollen to be released in the air over Easter.
And it’s not just rural sufferers in the firing line.
She said cities could be just as badly hit — if not more so because there are loads of birch trees in parks, gardens and on streets.
The Met Office is predicting very high pollen levels across most of all of England, Northern Ireland and the majority of Scotland on Friday and Saturday.
It coincides with much warmer conditions across the country for the Easter weekend, with temperatures expected to reach 22C in the southeast.