lady blowing her nose using a tissue

44% of adults in the UK suffer from at least one allergy, and the number is constantly growing.

But what are allergies, what causes them, and what can you do to help alleviate your symptoms?

What are allergies?

Allergies are a common and often frustrating condition experienced by millions of people around the world. An allergy occurs when the immune system reacts abnormally to a usually harmless substance, such as pollen, food, or animal dander.

The immune system mistakes the substance as a threat and releases chemicals, such as histamine, to attack it. This response causes a range of symptoms, including sneezing, itching, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.

Why do people develop allergies?

There are several reasons why people develop allergies. One of the most common factors is genetics. If a family member has allergies, there is a higher chance that other members of the family will develop allergies as well.

Additionally, environmental factors, such as pollution and exposure to certain substances or chemicals, can also trigger allergies.

Finally, lifestyle factors, such as diet and stress, can also play a role in the development of allergies.

What are the most common allergies?

Common causes of allergies include:

Pollen: Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can trigger seasonal allergies in some people.

Dust Mites: These tiny creatures live in bedding, carpets, and other household items, and can cause allergies year-round.

Animal Dander: Protein found in the skin, saliva, and urine of animals can trigger allergies in some people.

Foods: Some of the most common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, eggs, soy, and wheat.

Insect Stings: Bee stings, wasp stings, and fire ant bites can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Can allergies develop as an adult?

Yes, you can develop allergies as an adult, even if you have never suffered from allergic reactions before. It is not uncommon for allergies to develop in adulthood. This can happen due to changes in the immune system, exposure to new allergens, or the accumulation of allergen exposure over time.

Adult-onset allergies can be particularly frustrating because they often occur when people are already managing other health conditions or stressors. A common allergic reaction is hayfever, which can seem more prevalent in adulthood, even if you have typically not experienced it as a child.

How can I combat allergies?

To combat allergic reactions, there are several strategies that can be employed.

One of the most effective is to avoid the allergen altogether. This may mean avoiding certain foods, using air purifiers to remove pollen and dust from the air, or staying indoors during high pollen seasons. If you suffer from hayfever, it’s best to stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.

You can also avoid gardening chores such as planting, weed pulling or mowing the lawn which also stir up pollen allergens into the air. If you do spend time outdoors, always remove the clothes you have worn outside when you return to the house, and take a shower to rinse any pollen from your skin and hair.

Many people try to avoid hanging washing out to dry outside during allergy season, as pollen can stick to the clothes, sheets or towels and be transferred indoors.

For those who cannot avoid allergens, medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroids can help alleviate symptoms.

An N95 respirator mask, which you can buy online or in most DIY stores, will help block up to 95% of small particles such as dust and pollen, to help keep allergens out of your airways.

Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is another option for those with severe allergies. This treatment involves exposing the immune system to small amounts of the allergen over time, which can help the immune system become less reactive to the substance.

Can I take a test to see what I am allergic to?

Here at Goodbody Clinic, we offer a comprehensive allergy test to see which allergens you have a reaction to, and therefore what you are allergic to.

Our Complete Allergy Blood Test requires just a small sample of blood which is then analysed at a leading UK laboratory. The sample is checked against up to 300 different allergens, to help identify which trigger a reaction, and which you may find you are allergic to.

These allergens include:

  • Foods including meat, dairy products, nuts, vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices and seafood.
  • Cereals and seeds
  • Pet and animal dander
  • Grass and weed pollens
  • Tree pollens
  • Insect venoms
  • Moulds, Yeast and Fungi
  • Latex
  • and much more.

Your results report will identify exactly which of these individual allergens has caused a reaction, so you can immediately identify which is problematic for you.

Find out more and book your test online via our Complete Allergy Blood Test page.