Hay fever sufferers warned condition could worsen as climate change intensifies

Hay fever sufferers are being warned their condition could worsen as climate change intensifies.

The allergy which is caused by pollen, dust and mould, affects around 30 percent of Kiwis - particularly during the warmer months.

Birds cheeping, lambs bleating - the sound of spring. But when it's in full bloom, another noise punctuates the air - sneezing.

"When the pollen count's really high it's terrible - itchy nose, runny eyes, itchy eyes," one woman said. "On the whole quite debilitating."

And while the hot, dry conditions forecast this summer are good for some, it's bad news for others.

"Unfortunately that also means a really intense flowering season and potentially this summer there'll be multiple flowerings of those grasses that are the biggest cause of hay fever in this country," Allergy NZ chief executive Mark Dixon said.

Up until recently, New Zealand hasn't had the tools to accurately measure the type or amount of pollen in the air.

That's valuable information that University Of Auckland pharmacy researcher Dr Amy Chan said is already helping hay fever and allergy sufferers across the globe.

"Just by collecting that amount of pollen and being able to have that forecast, people will know what to expect when they go out of the day," she said.

Earlier this year, Dr Chan set up her own pollen sensor at Auckland University and it's already mirroring worldwide trends.

"We're seeing a lot of pollen and that pollen seasons are actually coming in earlier, sometimes around July and August, and actually staying around longer as well," she said.

On top of that, US modelling shows if emission rates continue, the pollen count is expected to increase by up to 40 percent each year.

"There is a theory that CO2 is causing better-growing conditions for flowering plants and consequently there is more airborne pollen that people are exposed to, and those of us who are allergic to it, that's not great news," Dixon said.

Both Dixon and Dr Chan would like to see pollen monitoring rolled out around the country to ensure allergy sufferers can enjoy the sun too.