An allergy is the response of the body's immune system, where it treats normally harmless substances as a threat and produces an inappropriate response.
There are thousands of substances that have the potential to cause an allergic reaction. However, certain substances tend to cause reactions more frequently. The most common are: Milk, shellfish, eggs, and nuts are among the most common foods that cause allergies. Others include wheat, soy, and fish.
It is estimated that there are 2 million people living in the UK with a diagnosed food allergy.
Currently there is no cure for a food allergy. The only way to manage the condition is to observe a strict avoidance diet.
While most incidents or reactions are non-life threatening, around 10 people per year will die as a result of an anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is when the body's immune system overreacts to to a trigger, such as contact with an allergic substance.
Feeling faint Anxiety and confusion Loss of consciousness
reactions may also include itchy, raised rash (hives), feeling or being sick, swelling, or stomach pain.
The most at risk are children, teenagers and young adults who are starting to make independent food choices.
If you believe you or a family member may be suffering from an allergy or have been experiencing symptoms which have no traceable cause, allergy testing is available from IGP.
The main difficulty with testing is narrowing the possible triggers or causes. The main causes of allergic reactions tend to be in most food products, clothing or even in the natural environment.
Before starting allergy testing, it is advised to keep a diary of when any reactions occur and what you were doing/eating just prior to the reaction. That way you can narrow down your possible triggers to the smallest amount. There are allergy profile tests, which test for the most common causes of allergies as a group.
One advantage of testing, even if you are unable to identify which substance is causing the reaction, is that even with a negative result you can rule it out as a trigger and therefore no longer have to avoid that substance.