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For millions with hay fever, summer means suffering from symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

GRASS is a clinical research trial exploring long-term protection from the symptoms of hay fever.

Imperial College London is seeking men and women aged 18-65 to volunteer in the GRASS trial that is testing two currently available therapies for their long-term effectiveness in hay fever.

The GRASS trial will be conducted at Royal Brompton Hospital and Imperial College, London and led by Stephen Durham, MD – a leading specialist in allergies. The trial aims to test the long-term effectiveness of two commercially available hay fever treatments, Grazax® and Alutard SQ®.

The trial will begin between March and September 2011 and participants will remain in trial over a 3-year period, during which they will be provided with anti-allergy rescue medications including anti-histamines during the pollen season.

If eligible, you will receive medical advice about your hay fever as well as compensation for some study visits and travel expenses.

To find out more and register your interest, visit:

Allergic Rhinitus

20% of the population are affected by allergic rhinitis.*Royal College of Physicians 2003 Report Allergy the Unmet need

Simple management tips that will help reduce symptoms include:

  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses whilst outside.
  • Sleeping with the windows closed at night, or invest in pollen screens.
  • A smear of Vaseline around the nostrils will help prevent pollen going on to the soft tissues inside the nose.
  • Washing your hair and changing your clothes when you get in from work or school stops pollens from being taken into the bedroom, preventing symptoms that can cause disturbed sleep.
  • Starting medications such as antihistamines and eye drops a couple of weeks before your symptoms usually rather than waiting until you get the tell tale symptoms of hayfever will help keep things in control.
  • Taking medications everyday throughout the season, not just when it is warm and sunny will also help manage symptoms more effectively.


[1] Walker S, Khan-Wasti S, Fletcher M, Cullinan P, Harris J, Sheilh A,. 2007. Seasonal Allergic rhinitis is associated with a detrimental effect on examination performance in United Kingdom teenagers: Case control study.

Histamine Intolerance

Histamine Intolerance = Headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure?

  • Increasing proportion of European population being identified as Histamine Intolerant
  • Intolerance sufferers – dire lack of diagnosis and information in the UK
  • A bad reaction to a little red wine can indicate HIT
  • HIT symptoms mimic allergy symptoms
  • Headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure are common symptoms
  • Stress, high histamine-level foods and alcohol trigger symptoms

This may indicate a condition called histamine intolerance (HIT), recognised as a growing problem on mainland Europe, but barely known, under-diagnosed and under-publicised in the UK, with sufferers sometimes being given the very treatment that makes it worse.

Its effects are very uncomfortable and can show up as symptoms that look intriguingly like an allergy. Why? The answer is simple. The common culprit is histamine. But the difference between allergy and HIT is significant. In allergies the immune system is involved; HIT is the lack of an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). Headaches, diarrhoea, rashes and a sudden drop in blood pressure are common symptoms.

HIT is complex but is mainly caused by problems digesting histamine-rich foods. In other words, if our DAO enzyme doesn’t do its job properly then histamine levels skyrocket and make us feel very ill. Some sufferers may have had this for a long time and those with predominant symptoms of diarrhoea are likely to have been misdiagnosed with IBS.

Problem foods include matured cheeses, cured meats, processed/tinned foods, any fermented foods, tomatoes, spinach, aubergines, chocolate, nuts, citrus fruits, wheat germ, some spices and alcohol, especially red wine and microbe-contaminated foods like tuna, mackerel and sausage.

Most people can enjoy histamine-rich foods and wine in reasonable quantities and feel perfectly fine the next day, however, some may feel extremely unwell Stress or emotional upset is also known to be a trigger of symptoms. So relax, enjoy, drink moderately and eat fresh foods. The majority of HIT sufferers, research shows, are women in their 40s.

Those who believe they may have a degree of histamine intolerance should consult with their GP.

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