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Frequent sneezing, itchy or watery eyes and a congested nose; or problems in your lung or gut could be symptoms of an allergy. The immune system is there to protect us, recognising what is harmful to us and what is not. An allergy is when the response to a typically harmless foreign substance entering the body is considered a threat.
There are a number of different types of allergy, and with them differing symptoms. By identifying the presence and source of the allergy then the symptoms can be dealt with more efficiently.
Allergy Triggers and Symptoms
There are a number of allergy triggers and symptoms, which can vary in severity. Allergy triggers can include be due to certain foods that you have eaten; pollen, insect stings, pets, mites, plants, or mould and yeasts.
The different triggers can result in different allergy symptoms. For example Food allergies can trigger swelling, hives, nausea and fatigue.
Hay fever is probably the most commonly known seasonal allergy – with congestion, runny nose, and swollen eyes. Usually hay fever can be controlled with over the counter treatments.
A skin allergy can be a sign or a symptom. Rashes being the most common. These can be painful or itchy. Eczema is a skin allergy which causes patches of skin to become inflamed, and can itch and bleed. Red itchy patches of skin with develop almost immediately after contact with an allergen is referred to as Contact dermatitis. Hives are raised welts of various sizes and shapes which develop on the surface of the skin. These are also red and itchy.
Of course we need to be aware of the chance of a severe allergy. These can be life threatening. Complications arise from problems such as the allergy suddenly narrowing the airways, increasing heart rate and a possible swelling and the tongue and mouth. These can lead to breathing difficulties, light headedness and loss of consciousness.
Identifying an Allergy
First of all you want to know whether it is an allergy you have or not. The first step to finding out if you have an allergy is testing. This can either be by a skin prick) or by an allergy blood test, or even both. Blood tests are especially useful if you have a skin condition. Obviously I would personally prefer just a skin-prick test as I have a needle phobia!
Once you have established that you do have an allergy or allergies it gives you the knowledge to better equip yourself against the allergy symptoms – such as avoiding eating foods that trigger you, or rehoming a pet if they are severe enough.
Home Allergy Testing
It may be that you do not have time to visit the doctors, or would just prefer to initially find out if you have an allergy at home. A Home Allergy test is an easy to use home-to-lab test. The test kit includes everything you need to take a small blood sample and send it to their partner lab for analysis. This test is a first step to finding out if your symptoms might be caused by an allergy. It does not diagnose allergy. The results of any allergy test need to be interpreted by a doctor alongside your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will be able to advise you on any necessary follow-up action to diagnose and treat you.