DO you suffer badly with hay fever yet neither your parents or siblings – or anyone in your family for that matter – are affected by pollen levels?
Many of us presume allergies are down to our genetics but experts say it could be down to the way you were born.
By that we mean whether you were delivered via caesarean section or not.
Dr Glenis Scadding, a consultant physician in allergy and rhinology at University College London, says the procedure could increase the likelihood of having hay fever.
Appearing on This Morning today, the allergy expert was discussing the topic with broadcaster Eamonn Holmes, who said he is the only one of his four brothers that doesn't suffer with hay fever.
In response, Dr Scadding said: "There's a genetic influence and an environmental one.
"Presumably you grew up in the same family as your brothers so you're environment would have been the same.
"Anyone delivered by caesarean section in the family?"
When you come out naturally you pick up the bacteria and viruses from your mother's vagina and they colonise you and they're what you need
To this, Eamonn said he believed there were but confirmed he wasn't born via c-section.
Dr Scadding continued: "Caesarean section makes it more likely that you get allergies – a 21 per cent increase in food allergies."
When asked by Eamonn's wife and co-host Ruth Langsford why this might be, she explained: "Probably because when you come out naturally you pick up the bacteria and viruses from your mother's vagina and they colonise you and they're what you need.
"When you come out in the operating theatre you pick up what's in the operating theatre."
How to deal with hay fever
Experts have come up with a number of ways of tackling hay fever.
Specsavers clinical spokesperson, Dr Nigel Best says: "Hay fever sufferers who wear contact lenses may notice the vision through their lenses can appear smeary and eyes can generally feel uncomfortable.
"However, there are some things contact lens wearers can try to help reduce the irritation.
Use drops or ditch the contact lenses
"Contact lens-friendly eye drops can help to calm down any itchiness and wearing prescription glasses (particularly wraparound sunglasses) can prevent pollen from getting into your eyes.
"Those suffering with hay fever could also try daily disposable lenses during the summer months."
Dr Best also recommends: ‘While it’s not always possible, staying inside when pollen count is high will help to avoid irritation or showering and changing your clothes when you get home will also help to remove pollen from skin and hair.’
But, it is not just eyes which are affected, hay fever can also cause your ears to become itchy or inflamed.
Specsavers’ chief audiologist Gordon Harrison says: "Allergic reactions can cause the outer ear to itch or swell.
"The middle ear contains the Eustachian tube, which acts as a drainage tube, but when mucus clogs the middle ear it affects that drainage. This leads to a build-up in pressure, which can cause discomfort, popping in the ears or earache.
"To avoid irritation, try putting Vaseline around the nose to trap pollen, vacuum and dust regularly or you can try over the counter pain relief.
Shower and change clothes often
Showering and changing after being outside will help remove pollen and antihistamines decongestants can help relieve symptoms.
Research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology last year found that more than one million children born by c-section were more likely to develop food allergies than those via natural delivery.
Jonas F. Ludvigsson, paediatrician and researcher at Örebro University, said at the time: "We believe that children born by C-section have a different bacterial flora than that passed on to vaginally delivered children and that the flora may impact the risk of developing food allergies."
He studied children born between 2001 and 2012 in Sweden, with data showing that children by C-section run a 21 percent higher risk of developing food allergies than children born by normal delivery.
Smaller studies with similar findings have been conducted, but this is the first major national study where researchers have been able to point to a link between childbirth method and food allergies.
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Around one in five births in the UK are by emergency C-section.
There are many reasons why a mum might need one including a placental abruption – when the placenta breaks away from the baby – and if the baby is breach.
Other reasons include if you have pregnancy-related high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) or if you have excessive vaginal bleeding.
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