Doc Talk #7 – Allergies



Allergies occur when your immune system attacks proteins which are not dangerous (such as pollen or cat hair) and treats them as harmful. Allergic disease is less common in people who are exposed to lots of allergens, including farms and rural settings.

Lots of people think they are allergic to drugs or medication, but the reactions they get may not be true allergies, rather just side effects of the medication or because of the illness which they are being used to treat. If you have a reaction to a medication which is mislabelled as an allergy, this may mean you might not be given a very useful drug in the future.

It can be confusing to distinguish between allergies and side effects, talking to your family doctor is the best plan.

The role of allergy testing is very limited and not helpful for most people. It does not usually change management.

Tips for seasonal allergies:

  • Start your allergy medication a couple of weeks before you expect your symptoms to begin for the year
  • There are useful medications for allergies which are not available over the counter – such as nasal steroid sprays – talk to your doctor about this
  • In children we often have to use larger than normal doses of allergy medication. Do not try this yourself – talk to your physician
  • During the allergy season, take your allergy medications every day to keep symptoms at bay