Frequently Asked Questions
An allergy is where your body responds to a substance. Allergens may not be harmful to your body, but sometimes your body still reacts.
Your immune system reacts to certain molecules and this is a normal process. Sometimes your immune system can be over-sensitive and therefore it reacts to a molecule which isn’t necessarily harmful. Some allergic reactions aren’t severe; however, others can be life-threatening (anaphylaxis).
Common allergens include:
- Tree and grass pollens
- House dust mite
- Insect bites/stings
- Food (commonly nuts)
When you’re allergic to something and you ingest or come in contact with it, a complex immune response is initiated.
Sometimes the body can initiate an extreme reaction, causing loss of vital function control – Which may lead to death.
The most severe allergies can be treated with immunotherapy, known as ‘desensitisation’. However, the most common allergies can be treated with medication known as antihistamines. There are a wide range of antihistamine tablets available, ranging from over-the-counter choices to stronger prescription medication.
Skin prick, blood and patch tests are the three most common forms for testing for allergies.
With skin prick tests, the allergen is mixed with a liquid and dropped onto the arm with an injection. If the area becomes itchy and red, it is positive for an allergic reaction.
Blood tests measure the amount of immune molecules present in your blood corresponding for a specific allergen. A high score means that your body is sensitive to that allergen.
Patch testing is used for skin allergies. A patch of an allergen is put onto the skin, and if a reaction occurs, you are positively allergic.
Hay fever is a type of allergy. It causes watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, headaches, feeling unwell and sinus inflammation. Hay fever is commonly caused by pollen, but it can come about from a wide range of allergens such as pets or food.
Luckily hay fever usually responds very well to treatment with antihistamine tablets.