Science Questions

How do you know if you have an allergy?

Sat, 21st May 2011

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Scratch 'n Sneeze - Science of Allergies


Phil Reynolds, via facebook asked:

How do you know if you have an allergy and how do you determine the source.


Pam -   You should go and see a doctor first, but you would go by the symptoms.  The symptoms would tell you what disease, and then that disease may or may not be allergic.  In order to work out that youíve got to look at circumstances of exposure, when the allergy comes on.  Itís obviously easy if itís something like a cat, you go near it and you get symptoms.  Itís not so easy if itís something like house dust mite, which youíre exposed to most of the time.  But by teasing out the circumstances, you can have a good idea, and then that can be backed up by allergy tests, which can show youíve got this allergic antibody to whichever substance youíre looking at.

Kat -   And what would be the typical symptoms of allergies?  Presumably itís different for a food allergy compared to a cat allergy?

Pam -   Exactly.  Allergy in the nose, eyes or lungs, so rhinitis and asthma, you would get sneezing, itchy eyes, blocked nose, runny nose and asthma.  With a food allergy, you might get an acute reaction with rash and swelling, through to something much more severe.  Or, chronically, you could get eczema due to food.


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