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Genetics could play a major role in our hayfever

One out of seven Australians are affected by hayfever and over 500 million people suffer from it around the globe, making it one of the most common diseases in the world.

In recent years, there has been a substantial rise in the number of people suffering from hayfever, and many experts believe it’s caused by environmental factors like pollution, or even the hygiene hypothesis.

Despite various theories, one research paper suggests that genetics is the most likely cause of the disease, although environmental factors could play a role too.

The review article ‘Risk factors of allergic rhinitis: genetic or environmental?’, by De-Yun Wang from the National University of Singapore explains what the strongest risk factor is in the development of allergic diseases:

“A genetic background in terms of a family history of atopic disease has been the strongest risk factor for the development of allergic symptoms, irrespective of the varying prevalence and environmental risk factors in different societies”.

The most convincing evidence of genetic effects in the development of hayfever has been through a study based on twins. The findings showed that allergy characteristics are greater in identical twins, rather than fraternal twins.

While it’s thought that genetic factors play a bigger role in causing hayfever, this doesn’t mean the impact of environmental triggers and exposure to indoor and outdoor allergens should be ignored. In fact, there are several studies that suggest these triggers are contributing factors to allergic conditions too.

The good news for sufferers is that they can avoid common indoor allergens like dust mites, mould and pet dander through a little bit of house maintenance.

If you’d like to find out more about how to reduce indoor allergens in your home, we’ll be providing hacks in our next blog.

If you’ve been struck with hayfever symptoms, remember a doctor can help you find out what’s causing your allergies and can advise you about the best treatment options available.