●● DR Paul Bowen, GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton and executive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). MY mum always told me I was allergic to penicillin.
It was only when I was given it as a medical student, having forgotten to tell my doctor about the allergy, when I realised I wasn’t.
No rash, no reaction at all. In retrospect, my ‘allergy’ was probably a side effect, or a sensitivity to the drug which I had grown out of.
However, as many as one in four people will have an allergic reaction of some type in their lives, this Allergy Awareness Week is a great opportunity to highlight the issues faced by those with allergies.
Many are mild and wear off as we grow older. Some are serious and require medication to prevent and treat their effects.
As hay-fever season approaches, many will be reaching for the antihistamines, available over the counter from your chemist, and these medicines should be used for any allergic reaction such as rash, sneezing and itching.
Runny noses can be managed with nasal sprays and creams can help rashes.
Just ask your pharmacist.
It is common for children to develop a sensitivity to certain foods and substances early on and, in the rare cases where these cause a significant reaction, you should discuss this with your GP or health visitor.
Very rarely an allergic reaction can be serious, and if someone develops breathing problems, mouth swelling or collapse, 999 should be called. If you always react to a certain food or substance, then you are probably allergic to it, but it doesn’t always mean you need tests, or even treatment.
Avoidance is the best cure.
Allergy testing and referral to an allergy specialist can help in severe reactions to multiple or unknown substances, so speak to your GP if you are concerned.