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This week is allergy awareness week, a week dedicated to highlighting the difficulties people with allergies can face. What better to time to investigate those niggling symptoms and see if an allergen could be to blame?
What is an allergy?
Allergies are very common and are thought to affect more than 1 in 4 people in the UK at some point in their lives. An allergy is a condition which occurs when the body overreacts to a substance that is harmless to the body called an allergen. When someone has an allergy, their immune system produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) which respond to the allergen. IgE antibodies cause the release of chemicals, including histamine into the bloodstream. These chemicals are responsible for causing the symptoms of an allergic reaction. There are many different types of IgE, each sensitive to a different allergen.
Allergy symptoms vary from person to person but common symptoms include itching of the throat and/or tongue, swelling of body parts, trouble breathing and dizziness. Anaphylaxis is a severe, extreme allergic reaction where the whole body is affected, often within minutes of being exposed to the allergen. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include swelling of throat and mouth, difficulting speaking, severe asthma, collapse and unconsciousness. If an individual is suffering from an anaphylactic shock, they require immediate medical assistance and treatment.
What can cause an allergic reaction?
Currently, it is not yet fully understood why certain substances trigger an allergic reaction and others do not, or why some people have multiple allergies whilst others do not suffer any allergic reactions. Allergies are common in children and whilst some allergies may go away as the child ages, allergies can be lifelong. It is possible for adults to develop allergies to things they weren't previously allergic to. Many types of foods are capable of causing an allergic reaction in some people. Common allergens include milk, peanuts and other nuts, shellfish and wheat. There are many other allergens that are not food types including bee/wasp stings, grass, certain medicines and animal dander.
How can I know if my symptoms are due to an allergic response?
Whether you have typical allergy symptoms or whether you have ongoing unexplained and vague symptoms, a Medichecks allergen blood test is a quick, simple way of confirming whether your symptoms are due to an allergy. We understand that allergies vary from person to person and because of this we provide a wide range of different allergen tests. Whether you wish to screen for the most common allergens in the UK including peanuts, soya and wheat or wish to check to see if you are sensitive to a particular allergen then we have the test for you. Check out our range of allergy checks today!