Imagine you are stepping outside on a beautiful summer’s day, you admire the blue skies and take a deep breath in. Before you’ve even had a chance to put on your sunglasses, your nose is streaming, your eyes are itching, sneezes follow one after the other. What’s going on?
With even Manchester enjoying three (pretty much) solid days of sunshine it seems like summer has arrived, but for some this is a mixed blessing. An estimated 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from hay fever (1), also called seasonal allergic rhinitis. In these people an allergic reaction to pollen can cause itchy eyes, blocked or runny noses and sneezing. In more severe cases, pollen allergies even trigger asthma attacks. If you are one of these unlucky people, I’m afraid your immune system is to blame. Allergies are caused by an immune reaction to something relatively harmless. The good news is that understanding how this works has helped provide some relief to those itchy noses, and may even reveal a cure for some allergies.