City-dwellers who have started to develop hay fever may actually be affected by a smoggy mixture of pollen and diesel exhaust fumes, according to research conducted by Kleenex.
This is quite ironic in the light of a recent survey which found that 86 per cent of people said hay fever was worse in the countryside than in towns.
The tiny pollen molecules circulating in the city air don’t usually have much of an effect, but the combination of carbon emissions and other airborne pollutants means the resulting cocktail is inhaled into the lungs, causing irritation.
Kleenex consultant allergy expert, Dr Adrian Morris, said: "It used to be hay that pollen would bind itself to but what most people don’t know is that today it is the diesel exhaust residue on cars.
"With the amount of diesel cars constantly increasing, especially in cities, this is a massive problem for the UK’s many hay fever sufferers.
"It’s beneficial to release the pollen from your respiratory system, so it’s essential that you’re prepared whenever you’re out and about by taking antihistamines, a pocket pack of tissues and a bottle of water with you at all times.
"By continually sniffing, the pollen is drawn further into the nasal passage, where the body continues to react, which is why it’s better to blow your nose and remove the irritant."
It is estimated that three in every five Brits and one in three children have reported at least one occurrence of hay fever. Road Safety Scotland has estimated that sneezing fits can mean a driver loses concentration and vision for up to half a mile.