We all know someone with an allergy, whether that’s hayfever (an allergy to pollen), nuts, animals or otherwise. In fact, according to Allergy UK ‘the UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorder’.
Here at The Coker Chest Clinic, we treat patients for a wide range of allergies, as well as conducting investigations into patients with new symptoms that may point to an allergy. In our experience, we have found that many patients share common symptoms, which we have listed below.
Inhalant allergies (allergies to dust mites, pet hair, moulds, pollen)
- Blocked and/or runny nose
- Post-nasal drip
- Persistent sneezing
- Itchy and/or watery eyes
Ingestant allergies (allergies to food and other consumed substances)
- Skin rash
- Facial or mouth swelling
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pains
- Drooling or inability to swallow
The symptoms for inhalant allergies rarely go beyond those that are listed above. However, ingestant allergies can cause uncommon symptoms in addition to the above, including vomiting, nausea and acute abdominal pain.
How do I find out what is causing my allergies?
Dr Coker says: “There are many patients who believe that they have identified their allergy, and consequently self-diagnose and self-medicate their symptoms. This is not only ineffective, but dangerous. Firstly, it is easy to incorrectly diagnose the allergy, misidentifying the allergen or even wrongly diagnosing their symptoms as an allergic reaction when in fact it is a completely different health issue. Secondly, the wrong dose of medication could be taken, or the medication could be completely inappropriate for the condition, resulting in a possible negative reaction.
“When you first suspect that you may have an allergy, your first move should be to visit a physician. The physician will then conduct the necessary tests to determine your condition.”
How do you tell if it’s allergies or something else?
For inhalant allergy diagnosis, a blood test is the gold standard and this is what we offer at The Coker Chest Clinic, along with symptom analysis and other investigations, if necessary. Blood testing allows us to identify active allergies and how severe they are, as well as any allergies that the patient may have had in the past.
Dr Coker comments: “Other methods of diagnosis include skin prick or patch testing; however, these are operator dependent and hence can be inaccurate. Although these tests can identify an active allergy, a negative test cannot tell us any more about your condition or what could be causing your symptoms. Unfortunately, I see many patients who have attended clinics for skin prick or patch testing, only to have come away none the wiser to their condition. At The Coker Chest Clinic we aim to make this a thing of the past.”
For food allergy diagnosis, a non-invasive, sophisticated breath test will tell us what we need to know about your food intolerance or allergy. You will need to prepare for the test in advance, and we provide instructions about what you can and cannot ingest in the days prior. You will then take the breath test, which will reveal whether you have an allergy and the food that you’re allergic to.
What can be mistaken for an allergic reaction?
After auditing our service at The Coker Chest Clinic, which comprises over 3,500 allergy patients, we found that 80% of patients who came to us believing that they have experienced an allergic reaction were ultimately diagnosed with a different condition. This shows how easy it is to mistake another condition for an allergy without proper diagnosis.
Allergies can be mistaken for:
- Autoimmune disease
- Metabolic disorder
- Hormonal issues
- COVID-19 and/or long COVID