Up until now, every summer has been a nightmare for 15-year-old Jacob Lee, who isconfined to his room during the year’s sunniest months with a severe grass pollen allergy.
But this year Jacob, from Walkley in Sheffield, is hoping to begin putting his debilitating hayfever behind him by becoming the first patient at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to start undergoing a novel treatment.
The teenager, a Y11 pupil at King Edward VII school in Broomhill, has begun a course of daily tablets containing a tiny dose of grass pollen, which aim to desensitise his body, curing his symptoms.
Jacob’s mum Sarah said her son is effectively housebound from April to August because he reacts so badly to pollen.
His face swells up, he struggles to breathe and he becomes extremely drowsy, with just one microscopic speck of pollen proving hazardous.
The allergy first emerged when he was just nine months old and Sarah had to rush him to A&E after finding him in his cot with a swollen face.
“It’s got worse and worse over the years,” said Sarah.
“It’s at its worst in the summer when there’s more grass pollen around, but Jacob still gets symptoms in winter too, they are less severe but it is a constant problem.”
Jacob is the children’s hospital’s first patient to be treated for grass pollen allergy, and will take a daily Grazax tablet for two to three years.
“I am hoping this will make a difference to my life,” he said.
“From April to August there’s not much I can do. I’ve had to miss a lot of school and I can’t go out much.”
Allergy consultant Dr Nicola Jay said: “The aim of the treatment is to give Jacob a small daily dose of grass pollen so that over time his body gets used to it, and
learns not to react to it.”
According to the Met Office, around two in every 10 people in the UK are allergic to pollen.
Hayfever is caused when the immune system reacts to pollen in the body. In Jacob’s tablets, the pollen extract is thought to stimulate the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against the substance.
He has started treatment in winter to allow his body to get used to grass pollen before the summer hayfever season.