Could It Be An Allergy?
Allergic reactions are very diverse, ranging from simple itch to a potentially fatal collapse. Between these two extremes, there lies an excess of misery: the ‘constant cold’, sinus trouble, skin rash, and so the list goes on. Allergy, in the broadest sense of the word, is also said to play a part in many other ailments, such as hyperactivity, migraine, arthritis, and chronic fatigue, to name but a few. Furthermore, allergic reactions may vary enormously from one patient to the next, and even within the same patient at different times. Thus, one person may sneeze in the presence of a horse, and another may wheeze. They are both allergic to the same thing, but they have very different reactions to it. Similarly, some allergies occur dramatically, within seconds of exposure to the offending agent; whereas others are more cumbersome, and take days or even weeks to develop. The former are usually well known to the patient, but the latter are seldom so.
Diagnosis may seem like a daunting task, but there are simple and straightforward steps that will clarify a) whether your symptoms are caused by allergy and b) what those allergies are.
The first step is a careful clinical history. The Allergist will seek to match your symptoms with known symptoms of allergy. A Skin Prick Test would then usually be performed. This involves scratching the skin of the forearm with tiny amounts of suspect allergen (grass pollen, dust mite, horse, various foods, etc). Results are available within 20 minutes. These often form the basis of a focused treatment plan.
Some allergies require Patch Testing. This involves the application of suspect allergens to the skin of the back under a protective tape. The tape is removed 48 hours later and a first reading is taken. A second reading is required 2-5 days later. This is particularly helpful for contact allergy: a form of dermatitis that results from allergy to something you have contact with on a regular basis, and that could be a cosmetic, a textile dye or something in the work environment.
Food intolerance, which may be implicated in migraine, irritable bowel, some forms of arthritis, general fatigue, etc., requires a dietary investigation.
I would be delighted to help sort out your allergies.
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- Contact allergic dermatitis
- Hay fever
- Hives/swellings (urticaria)
- Occupational allergy
- Oral allergy syndrome