If you're struggling with the usual sneezing and itchy eyes this spring, try eating a pot of probiotic yoghurt.
Probiotics, the friendly bacteria found in some yoghurts, can ease hay fever, according to research. The charity Allergy UK estimates that nearly 18 million people have hay fever in the UK. It is most common in children, particularly teenagers, but it is possible to suddenly become allergic to pollen at any age.
Doctors at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine reviewed 23 studies involving more than 1,900 people and found that probiotics cut the severity of the symptoms far more effectively than a placebo.
Scientists now think that many allergies are caused by a lack of bacteria in the gut. Humans evolved to live with bacteria, but cleaner environments have killed off important strains which kept immune systems dampened down to a healthy level. Without them the immune system is sent into overdrive by allergens like dust mites, animal hair or pollen.