Do you know if you’re suffering from an allergy or wondered if you a seasonal allergy like hay fever? Often time people are not aware that they have an allergy or indeed only find out they’re allergic when they have an unfortunate reaction.
Our immune system protects us by fighting germs that are dangerous to our bodies. People can develop allergies when their immune system has become hypersensitive to harmless substances such as pollen, dust, pets, mould and plants. When you have an allergy your immune system no longer ignores the substances and instead, attacks them, signalling a chemical release that triggers irritating symptoms. Classic allergy symptoms are sneezes, runny nose, hives, itchy and watery eyes and itchy throat, however allergies may cause a vast range of symptoms from fatigue, depression, constipation, joint pain, facial swelling, headaches and chronic sinusitis.
While you can typically mask the irritation and discomfort with antihistamines or other medications, the underlying cause needs to be identified to fully treat the allergy.
Allergist Dr. Chris Rutkowski MD, MRCP
Consultant Allergist, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust,
Dr Chris is an expert Allergist in the evaluation, diagnosis and management of immune disorders. Dr. Chris offers evidence-based, holistic and patient-centered allergy care to both adults and children. He completed his medical training at King’s College Hospital in London and then took a further 5-year specialist allergy training in Cambridge. He has extensive experience in all aspects of allergy care. His special clinical interests include drug allergy, anaphylaxis and difficult urticaria (hives).
Dr Chris will obtain a detailed medical history and then proceed to examine you and evaluate your symptoms. He will typically be assessing whether you sign of hay fever; food allergy; allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, rhino conjunctivitis and sinusitis; urticaria (hives) and angioedema (swelling); anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock; atopic dermatitis and eczema; drug and vaccine allergy; latex allergy; bee/wasp venom allergy; asthma including difficult asthma; allergic gastrointestinal disorders (eosinophilic esophagitis, food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome)
Tests will be performed to find out the type of allergic condition you have. Skin tests or allergy blood tests may be needed to find out the precise causes of your allergic symptoms
skin prick tests (food, pollen, dust, venom, animals etc.). The skin is slightly pricked while a small drop of allergen is exposed to the skin for about 15-20 minutes. Chris will monitor your skin for signs of an allergic reaction. Such as redness and swelling. You may experience some discomfort when your skin is being priced and some itching when the allergens are allowed to react.
drug and food provocation tests. The patient is exposed to an allergen whilst in a safe, clinical setting (in case of a severe reaction). This test is used to confirm or disprove a food or medication allergy.
allergy blood tests (specific IgE, RAST). Blood tests are used to monitor the antibodies present in your blood. Immunoglobulin E is an antibody that the immune system produces in reaction to a specific allergen. The IgE test is a measure of that.
RAST (radioallergosorbent) test is used to detect specific allergen related antibodies in order to identify the patient’s allergy triggers.
Having diagnosed your symptoms, Dr. Chris will then formulate a treatment plan to manage your allergy so you can start to feel better. The following are the types of treatments that are offered;
There are many medicines that can help control allergy symptoms. Decongestants and antihistamines are the most common allergy medications. They help to reduce a stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing and itching. Other medications work by preventing the release of the chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Dr. Chris will work with you to determine which medicines are best for you.
Immunotherapy* is a preventative treatment for allergic reactions to substances such as grass and tree pollen, house dust mites, bee venom
And animal dander. Immunology involves giving gradually increasing does of the substance or allergen. To which the person is allergic, typically allergy shots using tablet or drops. The incremental increase of the allergen causes the immune system to become less sensitive to the substance. Blocking antibodies are produced which reduce the symptom of allergy when the substance is encountered in the future. Immunotherapy also reduces the inflammation that characterises rhinitis and asthma.
* Desensitisation is never started during the first appointment. An initial visit is required to make/verify the diagnosis and optimise the treatment. A follow-up visit allows to assess response to the new treatment. If there is no response a course of desensitisation might be recommended.
Book your appointment today with Dr.Chris - firstname.lastname@example.org