What is hay fever? Hay fever is an allergy to pollen. Of all things that can cause an allergy, pollen is the most widespread. Each spring, summer and autumn, a fine, powdery substance known as pollen is released from trees, flowers and other plants. It is dispersed by air currents. It plays a vital role in the reproduction of plants. However, when pollen enters human noses and throats, it can trigger a seasonal allergic reaction known as pollen allergy or hay fever. Symptoms include sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy nose and throat, sore eyes, and a feeling of tightness in the chest, or asthma. People suffering from hay fever may be unable to work, drive or study. Outdated treatments which can get rid of the symptoms, and are still widely used, cause drowsiness. But modern treatments solve the problem for most sufferers. Hay fever affects 15 to 20 per cent of the population in Britain, and is also common in the United States and Japan. In Hong Kong, it is not so common because not all plants bloom at the same time so the chances of an allergic reaction are reduced. Why do Eskimos in Alaska rub noses? Eskimos are known as 'Inuit' in Alaska and Canada, and 'Kalaadlits' in Greenland. Alaskan Inuit are the most numerous and most diverse. They occupy the entire coast of Alaska except the Aleutian Islands and southeast Alaska and live in a variety of environments ranging from arctic tundra to mountainous, forested coastal areas. Throughout the Alaskan region, the unity of Inuit culture is enhanced by their similar languages, and a common cultural base - adaptation to arctic and sub-arctic maritime environments. Social, ritual and technological practices surrounding the hunting of arctic marine animals are the basis on which most Inuit cultures are founded. Inuit eat seals and fish. They wear heavy coats, boots and gloves to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures, and they also wear goggles to prevent snow-blindness. Inuit rub noses as a way of greeting each other. Rubbing noses is one of their oldest traditions. In the arctic cold it is probably more convenient than taking off heavy gloves to shake hands. What is cystic fibrosis and how can it be treated? Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder of the exocrine glands (which include saliva and sweat glands) which affects infants and children. It is caused by an abnormal gene that prevents the transfer of chloride in and out of cells. In a healthy person, the movement of chloride draws water from the tissues. Without water, the mucus in exocrine glands become thick and sticky and eventually blocks the ducts in our glands (especially the pancreas, liver and lungs). Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, malnutrition, diarrhoea and repeated respiratory infections. Treatment may include a low fat, high protein diet, and treatment with pancreatin and antibiotics to ward off infections.