Living With Allergies
Can Anybody Help Me With My Allergies?
Table of Contents
Being an allergist, one of the things that I’m often struck by is how long people have struggled in life without any answers to their concerns.
Many people who are concerned that they may be allergic to foods are simple told to ‘avoid it’ and they live their life never knowing if they are really allergic or how serious a reaction could be.
Despite allergies and atopic conditions (eczema, asthma, hayfever, food allergies) affecting so many people in the UK, it is an area poorly understood by many medical professionals and sadly this means the advice given is highly variable and often inaccurate.
Clueless about allergy!
I freely admit that when my son Ethan had an allergic reaction when he was 6 months old, I was completely clueless.
Despite being a doctor at the time and in training to be a General Practitioner, I think the most training I had ever had on allergies was one day at university. This is unfortunately all too common a story despite campaigning from various allergy charities and the British Society of Allergy (BSACI).
In order to improve my knowledge to benefit my son and patients I went back to university for a second time and completed the Masters in Allergy. From this point on, I’ve worked in the field of allergy and spent countless hours educating my colleagues in primary and secondary care.
Do I have an Allergy?
Studies have shown that around 25% of parents believe their child has a food allergy and whilst allergy is common – only around 3-6% of children will be affected and 1-2% of adults. This means there are a lot of people in the community with potentially unnecessary worries or other undiagnosed problems.
Whenever food allergy is being considered, it is vital that time is taken to listen and hear what the concerns are. Time should be spent finding out what foods are being avoided and why.
The two types of allergy
Food allergy is broadly divided into two types of allergy – IgE Mediated Allergy and Non IgE Mediated Allergy.
IgE mediated allergy presents quickly after exposure to the food or substance you are allergic to – it can cause hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhoea and anaphylaxis. It is often obvious and testing can confirm the diagnosis.
Non IgE mediated allergy is harder to diagnose and food diaries can be helpful to pin point the problem (an example can be found on the AllergyUk website Food and Symptoms Diary | Allergy UK | National Charity).
This type of allergy cannot be tested for and careful questioning is needed to ensure it is not missed.
Living With Allergies?
Do I just put up with allergies?
Living with allergies is a burden and causes understandable anxiety but ‘Knowledge is Power’ and with the right help and support you can live a well-rounded, happy life.“So now what?” you might be thinking. “Do I just put up with the symptoms and suffer then?”
The answer from me? – a resounding “no”! No one should have to suffer with the severe symptoms of hayfever and seasonal allergies. Even mild symptoms are troublesome but for those that have constant, severe symptoms it will affect your sleep, your concentration, your mood, your life.
Did you know that it has been shown that children don’t achieve their full potential at school in exams because of these allergies?
Did you know that adults are less productive and miss more days of work? Hayfever is no laughing matter and it is most certainly not a trivial illness. Even if you ‘only’ have grass pollen allergy that’s 3 months out of every year that you’re suffering. If we imagine the average age of developing hayfever to be around 9, and most of us living until at least 70 years; that’s 183 months of suffering – over 15 years!!!
Stand up to better treatment for allergies
It is time we as a hayfever suffering population stand up and demand better access to treatment.
Many people who come to see me at Dorset Allergy simply have not been using the correct medications or are using them incorrectly. Did you know, if you put the nasal spray up your nose and sniff hard, you will swallow the drug and it won’t work?
Make sure you’re using a nasal spray correctly -see a handy document from the University of Southampton on how to use your sprays correctly
Dr Helen Allergy immunotherapy solution
For some though, regular use of a nasal spray and antihistamine will not be enough. In this case, we have immunotherapy.
What is Immunotherapy?
This is a form of desensitisation that exists. For grass and tree pollen, you can either have this as a series of injections or via a daily tablet. This is given to expose the body to small amounts of the pollen and in time you build up tolerance.
The treatment is given for 3 years to ensure long term improvement, but within months, you should start to notice the benefit. We cannot start treatment during the pollen season as it will make things much worse.
So get ready now, plan for the future and speak to your doctor or a private service about having immunotherapy. Don’t be the person who has Kenalog every year for 10 years and then develops irreversible consequences.
At Dorset Allergy I can confirm what allergies you have and ensure your treatment is maximised to reduce suffering right now. We can do allergy tests in the form of a skin prick test or blood test.
Oral immunotherapy is available at Dorset Allergy for those with grass pollen from the age of 5years. We also offer immunotherapy to tree pollen and house dust mite and for those that might want to consider it, we can even perform immunotherapy for your cat and dog allergies.
DON’T SUFFER WITH HAYFEVER, come, and see me at Dr Helen Allergy. Contact us now to arrange either a virtual or face-to-face consultation. I can help anyone, anywhere in the UK.
Dr Helen x
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