By Stephen Adams Health Correspondent For The Mail On Sunday
Published: 01:20 BST, 21 April 2019 | Updated: 03:29 BST, 21 April 2019
It’s long been a cruel mystery for many hay fever sufferers: why should they be hit badly on days when the pollen count is low?
But now British scientists have found that the solution lies in the particular type of pollen in the air.
There are types of grass which will greatly irritate some sufferers even without releasing huge quantities of particles.
British scientists have found that the solution lies in the particular type of pollen in the air. There are types of grass which will greatly irritate some sufferers even without releasing huge quantities of particles
The breakthrough finding also addresses the opposite phenomenon that some sufferers have a surprisingly mild allergic reaction on days with high pollen counts.
This is explained by species which can release large amounts of pollen, yet cause only low-level reactions for many people.
The team of experts from universities and research institutions across the UK hope that their landmark study, called PollerGEN, will eventually lead to personalised pollen forecasts, based on the exact species that each hay fever sufferer is allergic to.
Until recently it has been almost impossible to differentiate the pollen from the scores of British grass species just by looking at them down a microscope, as they appear very similar. All grass pollens have therefore been lumped in together to give a single measure or ‘load’.
However, thanks to a new way of identifying pollens called DNA ‘barcoding’, they can now be distinguished from each other.
The academics are currently trawling through data on antihistamine prescriptions to see if spikes in prescriptions coincide with