Paediatric Allergy

Tests alone do not diagnose allergies accurately because all tests have limitations and misleading results are common. Allergy tests have to be interpreted in context of the situation or reactions that has occurred leading to allergies being suspected. Diagnosing allergies involves a careful and focussed history including the exact symptoms observed and the exact sequence after being exposed to the trigger. It is often helpful to bring a list of foods or other possible substances that could have caused the reaction. Allergy tests are most useful to confirm a clear history of an immediate allergic reaction when a positive test result can support the clinical diagnosis. Allergy tests should not be done as a “fishing” exercise especially if the trigger or food has never been tried because the results are commonly wrong indicating an allergy is present when actually there is none, or wrongly concluding there is no allergy only for that person to suffer an allergic reaction when exposed to that food or substance. Skin prick tests should be avoided in patients with widespread eczema where false positive allergy tests commonly arise or those taking antihistamines or steroid tablets. Sometimes blood testing will be done as an alternative. Many people confuse allergies with intolerance. Allergies affect the immune system and can cause a variety of reactions including delayed gastro-intestinal symptoms to acute anaphylactic shock. Intolerance is the inability to digest a particular food causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. High Street companies sell expensive tests that often cost several hundred pounds claiming to be able to accurately diagnose allergies and intolerances. These tests do not have any proven medical or scientific worth and give inconsistent results. They include analysis of blood samples, strands of hair, changes in electric current (electrodermal testing) and resistance to pressure applied to one’s legs or arms (kinesiology). It is a misconception that these tests are harmless because they misdiagnose food allergy in many people who subsequently risk their health by adopting restrictive diets that are unbalanced, unhealthy, lead to nutritional problems and are unenjoyable. It is Dr Ho’s practice not to perform any allergy tests or investigations unless clinically indicated avoiding unnecessary discomfort and excessive fees.

Dr Ho has received training in Paediatric Allergy and can provide accurate and practical advice for:

  • Food allergies
  • Cow’s milk protein allergy and intolerances
  • Urticaria
  • Hayfever and rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Eczema

The preferred test for acute allergy is skin testing because it does not involve needles or blood tests and results are available in 15 minutes. If you suspect a food allergy to any fruits, vegetables or other food please bring a small sample with you. However, please do not bring any nuts, sesame, wheat, egg, milk and all airborne allergens which are provided. Please ensure your child has not taken any antihistamines for at least 4 whole days (96 hours) before skin prick testing because these medications interfere with the accuracy of the tests. Some over-the-counter cold and flu medications contain an antihistamine, so be sure to read labels carefully. If you are not sure if the medicine you have contains an antihistamine, ask your local pharmacist.

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