Professor Bart Lambrecht of Ghent University (UGent) says the number of allergic patients is already going towards 50 percent among children and 40 percent among adults now.
A number of years ago, this number was situated between 15 and 20 percent for adults. "We recently carried out a test in Ghent, in which half of the participants had a positive skin test. This does not mean that all these people are ill, but you could call it alarming", says professor Lambrecht.
A skin test carried out in Ghent was alarming
What is causing the recent surge?
A number of explanations are available for the sharp rise. "First of all, trees and grasses are producing more pollen over a longer period due to climate change and the greenhouse effect," says Lambrecht.
"There is also air pollution. Diesel particles may stimulate allergies. However, the main reason for the rise is that many people are adopting a lifestyle which is too hygienic. Because of this, our immune system is not being trained enough. Our body fails to recognise what is potentially dangerous for us and what isn't."
One solution would be to work with so-called immuno-therapies. If somebody is allergic to bee stings, he or she could receive an injection containing bee poison each month, which can help a patient to cure. But more research is needed in this area.