Causes of allergies
Things that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.
Common allergens include:
- tree and grass pollen (hay fever)
- house dust mites
- foods, such as peanuts, milk and eggs (food allergy)
- animal fur, particularly from pets like cats and dogs
- insect stings, such as bee and wasp stings
- certain medicines
Check if it's an allergy
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
- a runny nose or sneezing
- pain or tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
- coughing, wheezing or breathlessness
- itchy skin or a raised rash (hives)
- feeling or being sick
- swollen eyes, lips, mouth or throat
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction ( anaphylaxis ) and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
- you think you or your child may have an allergy
What happens at your appointment
A GP may arrange some allergy tests or refer you to a specialist allergy clinic to have them.
Tests you may have include:
- a skin prick or patch test – where a small amount of the allergen is put on your skin to see if it reacts
- blood tests – to check for allergens that may be causing your symptoms
- a special diet where you avoid or eat less of a food you might be allergic to, to see if your symptoms get better
Treatments for allergies
Treatments for allergies include:
- trying to avoid the thing you're allergic to whenever possible
- medicines for mild allergic reactions like antihistamines, steroid tablets and steroid creams
- emergency medicines called adrenaline auto-injectors, such as an EpiPen, for severe allergic reactions
- desensitisation (immunotherapy) for severe allergic reactions – this involves carefully exposing you to the thing you're allergic to over time, so your body gradually gets used to it and does not react so badly (this should only be done by a medical professional)
Your specialist will give you an allergy management plan that will explain how to manage your allergy.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include sneezing, a runny nose, itchy skin and a raised rash (hives).
Common types of allergies include allergies to pollen, house dust mites, food (such as peanuts, milk and eggs) and animal fur.
Tests to diagnose an allergy may include a skin prick test, blood tests, a patch test or going on a special diet to see if your symptoms improve.
Treatment for allergies include avoiding the thing you're allergic to whenever possible and medicines to reduce the symptoms like antihistamines.
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