Where to Start
Getting an allergy diagnosis can be an overwhelming journey; knowing where to start, and what to expect from your GP and other healthcare professionals, can be a daunting process.
We would always recommend that you should first contact your GP. Allergy is a multi-organ disease and your GP will be able to assess whether the symptoms you are showing are allergy related or may be caused by other medical conditions.
Symptoms of allergy include rashes, runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, swelling of the lips or eyes, wheezing, breathing difficulties, nettle rash/hives, asthma and eczema. They may also include digestive problems, such as sickness, vomiting, and diarrhoea, particularly in babies and infants.
Your surgery may have a GP that has a good knowledge of allergy; however, if this isn’t the case, your GP will be able to refer you to an appropriate allergy specialist. It may be helpful to your GP if you keep a symptoms diary leading up to your appointment, as this will help him to identify what might be causing your symptoms.
Many allergic conditions such as asthma or eczema can be well managed by your GP, and they will be there to continue monitoring symptoms and treatments after initial visits to an allergy clinic. However, if your symptoms are more complicated or if you are suffering from several allergic conditions, as is often the case in someone with allergy, a referral to a specialist allergy clinic will help to identify what you are allergic to and provide ongoing holistic care and management.
In the case of severe immediate food allergies such as anaphylaxis it is vitally important that specialist help is sought as quickly as possible. The NICE Guidelines provide advice for GP’s on how to obtain a speedy diagnosis, but in emergency situations you should always go straight to your nearest A&E department or call an ambulance.
If you have any worries about how to go about obtaining a diagnosis, the Allergy UK Helpline 01322 619898 can give you the advice you need.