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What is allergy?

What is allergy?

The term 'allergy' is used to describe the body's immune response when it detects a particular substance in the body. The substance may not necessarily be harmful (for example, hayfever is a response to pollen) but the body detects it as a foreign substance and produces an immune response in reaction to it.

Allergy is widespread and affects approximately one in four of the population in the UK at some time in their lives. Each year the number of people suffering from allergies increases by 5% and as many as half of those affected are children.

Most allergies can be successfully diagnosed and treated by GPs. We aim to provide a service for patients when the diagnosis may not be clear or when more specialised treatment is required.

  • Hayfever  or allergic rhinitis - Nasal and eye symptoms due to pollen, house dust mite, pets or other allergens in the atmosphere
  • Hives/urticaria ('nettle rash')
  • Allergic swelling (angioedema)
  • Food allergy
  • Antibiotic, anaesthetic and other drug allergies
  • Bee or wasp allergy
  • Latex allergy

Patients with dermatitis may have an allergy (e.g. hair dye), but this is caused by a different mechanism. The testing for this kind of allergy is done in dermatology (patch testing).  Sometimes patients are referred to dermatology for patch testing after being seen in our clinic.  We endeavour to make sure that only appropriate patients are seen in the clinic and referral letters are checked by the consultants before an appointment is confirmed. 

  • Food intolerance
  • Eczema and dermatitis
  • Eosinophilic Oesophagitis
  • Orofacial Granulomatosis