Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brace Yourself the Allergy Season Is Just about to Kick in with a Vengeance

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brace Yourself the Allergy Season Is Just about to Kick in with a Vengeance

Article excerpt

THE long-awaited arrival of warm weather means we are about to hit peak allergy season, which starts with tree pollen.

So while the rest of us are celebrating, hay fever sufferers can expect the sneezes to start any time soon.

Allergies affect about one-third of Britons at some point. In fact, the UK has some of the highest rates in the world for asthma, eczema and hay fever, with the number of cases soaring each year.

Allergies of all types tripled in the past 20 years and are set to rise even higher with 50 per cent of us predicted to suffer from hay fever by 2060, figures from Allergy UK show.

We''ve certainly seen a marked rise in common allergies,agrees Dr George Du Toit, from the children''s allergy clinic at London''s Portland Hospital. And it''s not just hay fever and asthma - hospital admissions for life-threatening food allergies that can trigger anaphylactic shock are also higher than ever before.

Why the rise? An allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to something harmless such as food or pollen. Worryingly, nobody knows for sure what is behind this increase, but the latest research has identified a few promising theories...

WE''RE TOO CLEAN - also known as the hygiene hypothesis, this explanation is based on the idea that our immune system needs constant challenges to stop it overreacting to safe things. Some experts say modern life is so super-clean, it may prevent this stimulation happening.

WE''RE TAKING TOO MANY ANTIBIOTICS - some studies suggest that children who have many courses of antibiotics are more likely to develop allergies. The reason for this could be because taking them can damage the balance of bacteria in our stomachs - the friendly flora that we now know is a vital part of our immune systems.

WE''RE EXPOSED TO NEW FOODS AND POLLEN - another theory is that we are surrounded by many more potential allergens these days. …

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