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Allergies can be caused by any number of factors – natural products are just as likely to cause reactions as man made.

The most common causes of allergies are:

  • Grass/tree pollen (Hayfever)
  • Dust mites
  • Animals
  • Food
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Medications
  • Mould
  • Household cleaners

Allergy Symptoms

Whilst the symptoms of allergies are unpleasant, they are often not serious and do not cause too much concern. However some reactions are serious and require immediate medical attention (please see below).

The most common symptoms of allergies are:

  • Sneezing or an itching/runny/blocked nose
  • Itchy, red, watering eyes
  • A raised, itchy red rash
  • Dry, red or cracked skin
  • Swollen lips, tongue or face – Be aware these can be early symptoms of a severe reaction

Severe Allergic Reaction (Anaphylaxis)

In very rare cases an allergy can be serious and can lead to anaphylaxis and/or anaphylactic shock which can be life threatening. This affects the whole body and occurs within minutes of being exposed

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling of throat and mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Light-headedness
  • Confusion
  • Collapse and loss of consciousness


How to minimize the effects of allergies

  • Sometimes it may not be possible to identify what is causing an allergy, however if you are able to identify what is causing the allergy then the following advice may help:
  • Avoid contact with allergens where possible
  • Ask for accurate food content details of you have food allergies
  • Take antihistamines at times when you are likely to have a reaction
  • For patients who have severe allergies, they may be required to carry an ‘Epi-pen’ – this will be prescribed by a specialist and training will be provided on how to use them

Comment from a GP/Clinical Practitioner

Key Points

  • Most allergies are not serious but if you should develop a serious reaction you need to seek immediate medical help
  • If any allergy is mild, you can attend your local Pharmacy who will be able to advise you about possible causes and treatment required
  • If you have an allergy to dust mites, regular vacuum cleaning may help
  • Medicines can cause allergy symptoms, especially when they are new. You can talk to your Pharmacist who will be able to help
  • Having pets may increase risk of allergy, especially if you are sensitive to them or allergens they may carry

Further information is available at NHS Choices



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