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Do you have an allergy? Don’t suffer in silence

22 April 2015

It is estimated that one-third of the British population will have an allergy at some point in their lifetime.  Each year the numbers are increasing by approximately five per cent, with as many as half of all those affected being children.

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is the body’s response or reaction towards a usually harmless substance like dust, pets, pollen, medicines and dairy foods i.e. milk and eggs.  Allergic conditions take on many forms and can vary in severity from the mildest of hay fever to life threatening anaphylaxis.

If you are allergic to substances in the air such as pollen, animal dander and dust mites the symptoms usually include:

• Rhinitis – sneezing and a blocked, itchy or runny nose

• Conjunctivitis – itchy, red, streaming eyes

• Asthma – wheezing, breathlessness and a cough

If you are allergic to a certain food or medication, symptoms can include:

• Urticaria (hives) – a raised, itchy, red rash

• Swelling – usually affecting the lips, tongue, eyes and face • Atopic eczema – the skin becomes dry, red and cracked

• Abdominal pain – which can include vomiting and diarrhea

Diagnosis

Patients experiencing any of the associated symptoms should contact their GP for advice who will then refer them to an allergy expert if necessary. A specialist will take a full medical history including general health, symptoms and whether members of the family have asthma or allergies such as hay fever, hives or skin rashes like eczema. They will also ask about work, home and eating habits to see if these can provide clues to help pinpoint the allergy. Allergy tests will also be conducted via. skin or blood. The most common type is a skin prick test. A small amount of a possible allergy trigger is placed on the skin, then the skin is gently pricked to allow it to go under the skin. If you have swelling or redness, you are allergic.

Treatment

An allergy specialist will provide advice on how to minimise triggers and prescribe medicine based on what you are allergic to and how severe your allergies are. Common treatments include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants some of which are available over-the-counter and others by prescription.

Mr Atef El-Kholy is a Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon at The Wilmslow Hospital, 52 Alderley Road. He specialises in the treatment of allergies and is a member of the British Association of Ear, Nose and Throat and Head and Neck Surgeons.

For more information or to book a consultation with Mr El-Kholy, please call 01625 545 036.

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