Uncertainty of managing allergy in times of urban living
The position of the self testing and Allergies
There have been several reports published by the media and UK Government in the last few years, each of which openly expresses own opinion on NHS services with regard to the diagnosis and treatment of allergy in the UK at the same time trying to find the best solutions for people living with allergies.
As mentioned in article published by The Guardian the distance from, and lack of exposure to, natural environments is driving and increasing the allergy epidemic in modern life. Urban living makes it harder for us to be regularly exposed to natural environments. We also spend more time indoors, which makes vitamin D deficiency more common throughout the population, but particularly in children. In the UK, as advised by NHS, parents are advised to “cover exposed parts of your child’s skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days”
One of main driver of food allergy, also connected to urban life, is associated with the curious fact that there is an approximate geographical spread of food allergy. Scientists have begun to notice that the prevalence of food allergy has a tendency to align with the geographical availability of sunlight. In a number of papers and studies, Prof Carlos Camargo in the US and Prof Katie Allen and her colleagues in Australia have explored how a lack of exposure to sunlight – and a consequent vitamin D deficiency – can make infants three times more likely to have an egg allergy and a staggering 11 times more likely to have a peanut allergy.
The NASG (The National Allergy Strategy Group) has worked, with others, to highlight the need for allergy services; the inadequate care available for allergy patients at all levels in the NHS and to improve NHS allergy services.
According to John Collard, Clinical Director of Allergy UK:
“Between 90 and 95% of all allergy symptoms (sneezing , runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, severe wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, sinus problems) will be caused by an allergic reaction to one or more of the three most common airborne allergens (Grass Pollen; Dust Mite; and Cat)”
The Role of Patient Self-Help:
It is inevitable that given the present state of allergy services within the NHS that a growing section of the population are looking to the provision of private services for diagnosis and management advice. A joint initiative between the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and Allergy UK is addressing this need by way of their Pharmacy Allergy Screening service. This provides ‘entry-level’ allergy screening where a consultation with a trained pharmacist is followed by an on-the-spot allergy blood test if this is required. Subsequent advice about symptom management is given.
Alternatively, the allergy sufferer may be motivated to purchase an allergy self-test to help identify the cause of their allergy symptoms by him/her self that allows to visit doctor afterward with test results on hand already.
Allergy Self Test Kits:
Selfdiagnostics offers allergy test kits that are quick and simple to use, providing results in about 30 minutes that show excellent correlation with laboratory test results. They can either be purchased for self testing in the privacy of the user’s own home, or can be used by a healthcare professional (e.g. retail pharmacist) as part of an allergy diagnostic service.
The Airborne Allergy Self test kit detects the three common airborne allergens (grass pollen, dust mite and cat) all in one simple test, and has been selected by the National Pharmacy Association/Allergy UK as the test of choice for their Accredited Pharmacy Allergy Screening service.
As Dr Chris Steele, GP and advisor to stated: “Quick, reliable and convenient home allergy testing gives people the knowledge to take the next steps towards choosing the most appropriate course of action whether it be a doctors appointment, an over the counter treatment or lifestyle changes such as house dust mite or cat avoidance which could considerably improve their quality of life.”