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Are you sneezing? How to find out if you have hayfever or a summer cold

Hay fever is a real problem this week. Apparently grass and nettle pollen levels are abnormally high, with asthma sufferers warned to take particular care.

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The chances are that, if you wake up bunged up and drowsy, you are suffering from the seasonal condition. Or, of course, you may just have a summer cold.

Today we ask experts to help us distinguish between summer sneezes from hay fever and those caused by a cold.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A COLD AND HAY FEVER?

They’re caused by different things, firstly. Colds are caused by a virus that’s spread from one infected person to another. Hay fever, meanwhile, is not contagious, as it’s an allergic reaction some people have to pollen.

“Pollen is a fine dust that disperses in the wind to reach other plants for pollination and start new plants,” explains Claire Nevinson, Boots superintendent pharmacist.

“Tree pollen counts are highest between late March and mid-May, while grass and weed pollen counts are highest between mid-May and September. If you have hay fever, you’re most likely to experience symptoms when the pollen count is high.”

Grass and nettle pollen is a particular problem at the moment, leading to warnings from experts to those affected.

“More than three million people with asthma are affected by pollen and when levels are at their highest it can be deadly for those with a lung condition," said Erika Radford from Asthma + Lung UK.

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