An allergy is an unusual response of the body’s immune system to a usually harmless substance such as pollen, food or dust. Generally, these substances pose no problem, however in those with allergies the body identifies the substance as a threat and reacts accordingly.
Food intolerances are different from allergies in that whilst the body may be struggling with a particular foodstuff - it is not treating the substance as an allergen nor producing the corresponding antibodies.
Food allergies and intolerances can be a real irritant in everyday life, manifesting as a cough, irritable bowel, headaches or rash, amongst other symptoms. Around 6-8% of children have a proven food allery (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2011) and number of allergy sufferers in general in the UK increases by 5% each year - half of those being children. (Allergy UK)
The latest surveys show that the rates of allergies in general are increasing on a global scale affecting 30-40% of the population at some stage in their lives. Patterns of allergy are also changing and an increase can now be seen in all the industrially developed and developing countries. Recently there has been an increase in those with food allergies. It has also been found to be more frequent in children and it is estimated that around 50% of children within the UK are affected by an allergic condition. (Journal of Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 2009)
Whilst it may be unclear as to why there has been this rise in allergies it is important that those with concerns do have their symptoms investigated and tested. In recent years as the rate of allergies has increased so too has awareness of different methods of testing. At Southdowns Private Healthcare we deliver three main types of testing. Our Comprehensive Food Allergy profile is a simple blood test used to detect wide range of food allergies such as nuts and wheat. Results are delivered efficiently and are available after just 2 days. Hayfever is one of the most common allergies and is easily detectable through Rhinitis Provoking. We treat every patient as an individual and we can assess everyone based specifically upon their symptoms. Eczema Provoking is also used to detect common environmental allergens.