Allergy Awareness Week

Allergy Awareness Week will take place on Monday 23rd April 2018 until Sunday 29th April 2018; this week is designed to raise awareness of people living with allergies. This year the focus of the campaign will be on travelling with an allergy and raising awareness of the issues faced by people with allergy when travelling.

Allergy UK

This campaign is run by Allergy UK who are a leading national patient charity for people living with all types of allergies. They work with the government, professional bodies, healthcare professionals and corporates towards their vision of helping to improve the lives of millions of people with allergic disease.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is the response of the body's immune system to normally harmless substances, such as pollens, foods, and house dust mite. Whilst in most people these substances (allergens) pose no problem, in allergic individuals their immune system identifies them as a’ threat’ and produces an inappropriate response.

What are the most common causes of allergic reactions?

The most common causes of allergic reactions are:

• pollen from trees and grasses

• house dust mites

• moulds

• foods such as peanuts

• pets such as cats and dogs, and other furry or hairy animals such as horses, rabbits and guinea pigs

• insects such as wasps and bees

• medicines (these may cause reactions by binding to proteins in the blood, which then trigger the reaction)

How does an allergic reaction occur?

When a person comes into contact with a particular allergen they are allergic to, a reaction occurs. This begins when the allergen (for example, pollen) enters the body, triggering an antibody response. When the allergen comes into contact with the antibodies, these cells respond by releasing certain substances, one of which is called histamine. These substances cause swelling, inflammation and itching of the surrounding tissues, which is extremely irritating and uncomfortable.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

• sneezing

• wheezing / coughing / shortness of breath

• sinus pain / runny nose

• nettle rash / hives

• swelling

• itchy eyes, ears, lips throat and mouth

• rashes

• spots

• sickness, vomiting & diarrhoea

How is an allergy diagnosed?

If you believe you have suffered an allergic reaction that has caused symptoms such as rashes, swelling or sneezing then visit your GP for further diagnosis. Your GP may ask the following questions:

• Do your symptoms occur at any particular time of the day?

• Do you only get symptoms at certain times of the year?

• Do you suffer more at night time or during the day?

• Do your symptoms occur when you are in the house as well as outside?

• Does exposure to animals bring on your symptoms?

• Do you think that any food or drink triggers your symptoms?

• Do the symptoms occur everytime you come into contact with the allergen?

• Do your symptoms improve or worsen when on holiday?

How do you manage an allergy?

1. Documenting where and when a reaction occurs

2. Reducing the risk of an allergic reaction by avoiding the allergen, wherever possible.

3. Medical treatments to reduce symptoms including medications and immunotherapy.