Talk to any allergy sufferer and they will tell you how awful it can be. Runny noses, itchy eyes, coughing and difficulties breathing. For many these symptoms rise only to the level of annoyance and can be avoided by steering clear of the source of their allergy. What many people don’t realise though is that allergies can become a far more serious issue for a large segment of the population. Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing due to allergies bring many people to emergency rooms and these are just the acute symptoms. Along with the potential for an allergic attack during a windy or dusty day, researchers and medical professionals are beginning to recognise that there are chronic, long term effects associated with allergies. In order to mitigate both the acute and chronic effects of allergies a better understanding of how genetic factors combine with environmental conditions to produce the ranges of symptoms and effects of allergy suffers is needed. Professor Tomomi Higashi, from the Department of Hygiene at Kanazawa University in Japan, is an expert in this field and is currently working to improve treatment and prevention of allergic disease.