In this timely book, Jo Revill explores the nature of allergies, why they are on the rise, and what we can do about it. The first chapters explain what an allergy is, helping you to understand your body's response to allergens. Jo also discusses the most credible theories about why allergies are on the increase - is high pollution, an obsession with hygiene and exposure to chemicals the reason behind our allergies, which is an affliction that rises with a nation's prosperity (before the Berlin Wall came down, Eastern Germany had very low allergy rates, post-unification, they rose to Western levels). The book will take in the latest scientific information about hypersensitivity, and will also look at the 'dirt theory' - the idea that a lack of exposure to dirt and germs at a young age leaves you more at risk of allergies later on in life. The second part of the book discusses the various allergies, from the common to the very rare (hayfever, asthma, eczema, food intolerances as well as perfume, soap and latex). Symptoms can range from itchy eyes to skin irritation, and in serious cases, disability and death and the last section deals with diagnosis and treatment.
Jo sorts the pollen from the chaff, and helps you to understand what might really help allergy sufferers, rather than relying on Internet 'cures' that have no scientific evidence to back them up. She will offer advice on treatments available, from steroids to vaccines as well as complementary methods, plus how to assess your home and the range of allergy-free products on the market. "Allergy Nation" is a 21st-century guide to a 21st-century epidemic.
Jo Revill has been Health Editor of the Observer for the last 3 years. She has also worked on the Evening Standard as Political Correspondent and also as Health Correspondent as well as the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday. She has written extensively on health and environmental issues and worked closely with medical organisations and NGOs such as the World Health Organisation. Jo has initiated and run several campaigns for the Observer, the first being on the subject of childhood obesity and the latest concerning the problems surrounding childbirth. Her first book, Everything You Need to Know about Bird Flu, was published in 2006 to critical acclaim and was serialised in The Times.