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Living With Allergies

Allergies are very common. They affect more than 1 in 4 people in the UK at some point in their lives. They're particularly common in children, and often people can develop allergies to things they were not previously allergic to. 

The most common allergies include:

  • grass and tree pollen (hay fever)

  • food (such as nuts, shellfish and eggs)

  • house dust mites

  • medicines like penicillin

  • insect stings (such as bee and wasp)

  • animals, particularly pets like cats and dogs

Allergy Awareness Week is a chance to raise awareness about all allergies whilst highlighting the difficulties people with allergies experience. The event helps people to understand the seriousness of some allergies, and improve knowledge of what can sometimes be a life-threatening condition.

An allergy is a reaction your body has to a particular food or substance. Whilst in most people these substances pose no problem, for allergic individuals their immune system identifies them as a threat. As a result, the body can produce a response to try and combat the supposed threat. This can range from something minor such as itching to something much more severe and life-threatening, like anaphylaxis.

Not all allergic reactions will have the same symptoms, but here are some general ones to look out for:

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing or breathlessness

  • A runny or blocked nose

  • A red, itchy rash

  • Worsening of eczema or asthma symptoms

  • Red, itchy and watery eyes

  • Diarrhoea

  • Feeling or being sick

  • Swollen eyes, lips, mouth or throat

Your local pharmacy can provide treatment and medication for some mild allergies.

For severe symptoms of an allergic reaction, call 999, a person may need immediate treatment in hospital.

Make an appointment with your GP if you think you or your child may have an allergy. A GP may arrange some allergy tests or refer you to a specialist allergy clinic to have them. this may include a skin prick or patch test, blood tests or a special diet to see if symptoms improve.

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