By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /


Allergies can be tough. I know. I’ve got two children with
multiple food allergies, environmental allergies,
as well as asthma, eczema, and allergic rhinitis. And I bet if you’re
watching this, you’ve probably got similar
concerns with your kids too. This is one of a series
of videos Mumsnet are making about allergies. So to check out
the rest, subscribe to their YouTube channel. Today, I’m here to tell
you a little bit more about diagnosing feed allergies
and the testing process. So how many children
actually have allergies? To explain about that
in a little more detail, I’ve got Dr. Adam Fox, who’s
a paediatric allergist, to help us out. Thanks, Emma. If your child has
got allergies, it’s really important to remember
that you’re not alone. Over the last 30
years or so, there’s been a dramatic
increase in the number of children who suffer from
allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema. Genetics are really important
when it comes to allergy. If you’ve got one parent
with allergic problems, then you’ve got about a 30%
risk of having some yourself. If both parents are
suffering from allergies, then that increases
to around 60% to 80%. But there are some kids who come
from families where nobody’s got allergies at all, so it’s
really difficult to predict when allergies are
going to arise. When my son was born, in 2013,
he was a very unhappy baby. He cried, he vomited,
he didn’t sleep, and by the time he was
about 10 weeks old, he was developing severe eczema. So I knew something
wasn’t right, and I needed to take
him to see a doctor. And it’s really
helpful, when you come to the appointment
with your doctor to talk about concerns
around allergy, that you bring as much
information as possible. Keep a diary of any
symptoms that have happened. If you suspect a
particular food, bring it with so that there’s
a list of ingredients, because all of that will help
taking a detailed allergy focused history. Sometimes getting a diagnosis
can actually be a huge relief, because it means you can start
figuring out what you do next. There’s two types of food
allergic reactions that we see. One is known as an IgE-mediated
or an immediate type reaction. The other is known
as a non-IgE-mediated or a delayed type reaction. We understand a little bit
more about the immediate type reactions. These happen when our immune
system makes a mistake and wrongly develops a
response to harmless things, such as food, that
can potentially harm the body when they happen. They involve the
immune system producing something called immunoglobulin
E, which is an antibody. And when you eat something
that you’re allergic to, the immunoglobulin E
recognises it and causes your body to release a
chemical called histamine. Histamine is the chemical that
causes the symptoms that we’re all familiar with of
allergic reactions, and in the most extreme
form, the potentially life threatening condition
called anaphylaxis. Non-IgE-mediated or
delayed type allergies are less well understood. They involve a different
slower acting part of our immune system, and don’t
involve the allergic antibodies that the other sorts
of reactions include. Cells in the immune system
recognise foods that you’re allergic to and produce
chemicals that lead to a whole range of different symptoms,
typically some hours after you’ve eaten them. This can make it much
harder to diagnose, because the symptoms
don’t happen quickly after the food’s been eaten. If your GP suspects your child
had an IgE-mediated reaction, which means an immediate
reaction to food, drugs, or another substance,
then they’ll refer you on to an
allergy clinic, where you can get more testing. And there’s two tests that we
perform very commonly there. The first is a skin prick test. It’s a very old fashioned
test, but a very reliable one. What it involves is
putting small drops of the different things that we
suspect that your child might be allergic to onto the
forearm, and then, very gently, prick through that
drop into the skin. That means that the immune
system that sits just under the skin gets to see the
protein in the extracts that are on the arm, and it tells
you what it thinks about it. If there are allergic
antibodies there, then within 10 to
15 minutes, they’ll come up with a little red
bump, and the size of that bump relates directly
to the likelihood that you’re allergic. It’s important to mention
that just because you get a positive test, it doesn’t
mean that you are allergic, nor does it mean
if it’s negative that you’re not allergic. You have to interpret
the result together with a clinical history. What’s happened when there’s
been an exposure to that food? A blood test is
just as reliable. It’s as sensitive and
specific as a skin prick test, but sometimes it’s helpful to
have two pieces of information rather than one in order
to make your decision as to whether you think
somebody is allergic or not. We do allergy testing on
babies from very early infancy, and it can be very
helpful and reliable. So my children have
both been tested yearly when they’re young. This gives you a chance to
see if they may have outgrown an allergy, if you’re able to
start reintroducing a food, or just if anything has changed. As they get older though
and the likelihood of them outgrowing something decreases,
these visits to the allergy clinic will probably
become less frequent, and you may go to three
yearly or even beyond that as they get into adolescence. It can feel really
overwhelming, lonely, and upsetting to see your
child in pain or to watch them have a bad reaction. But keep going. Find the right help, get that
referral to the allergy clinic, and you will get to the
bottom of it eventually. Once you’ve figured out the
diagnosis and the testing, then you can learn
how to move forward and how to manage it
in your everyday life. [MUSIC PLAYING]


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