Affordable Allergy Testing in London
Mike Dilkes is an allergy expert. He has a particular interest in dealing with inhaled allergens that mainly affect the nose. He identifies allergy problems, provides fast and affordable allergy testing and prescribes medication to help treat allergies. Use this page to find out more about allergies and allergy treatments. Please get in touch with us if you have allergy concerns and would like an allergy test - or view our Allergies FAQ page.
Allergy is very common in Western countries. It affects at least 30% of adults and can manifest itself in many different ways, from itchy, runny nose and eyes, sneezing, snoring, throat discomfort, tongue and lip swelling, to cough, asthma, stomach and bowel upsets, diarrhoea, general irritability, skin disease etc.
The vast majority of adults with allergy have never been tested – so out of a possible 20 million or so allergy suffers in the UK, it is thought that 200,000 or less have been properly diagnosed, which is <1%. Trying to find the cause for allergic reactions can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. This is especially true when symptoms and case history are inconsistent, the patient is multi-sensitized or shows unsatisfactory response to treatment.
In treating allergy patients, Dr Dilkes provides the most current, optimal testing and treatments based on medical research, reading and liaison with leading experts in the USA and Germany.
A small number of foods are believed to cause the majority of allergic reactions. The top eight food allergens are: eggs, fish (including cod and salmon), shellfish (including crab, prawn and lobster), tree nuts (including walnuts, almonds and cashews), peanuts, cow’s milk, soy and wheat. A food allergy can result in sensitivity to similar foods (crab, prawn, lobster, for example). This is called “cross-reactivity.” In some cases, individuals with strong reactions to certain pollens will experience cross-reactivity with certain fruits and vegetables (fruit-pollen syndrome, oral allergy syndrome)
How are allergy tests done?
It is important to be tested, because some allergens, especially food allergens, can be relatively easily avoided. The question is – what is the best test? These range from medically unproven type tests, available widely, performed by a non-medically qualified practitioner and fairly cheap. They have no scientific basis and should be avoided. Applied kinesiology, IgG and VEGA testing are examples of these. More proven tests are skin prick and blood testing. There is no doubt that the best way to properly diagnose this condition is to test for specific and component blood allergen Immunoglobulin (antibody) E, and then back this up with skin prick testing.
IgE is an immunoglobulin, or antibody. Antibodies bind to antigens. Allergens are antigens. Allergens (things you can be allergic to), like pollen, bind to their own “lock and key” specific antibody. If you take antibody from a patient’s blood, which is just a blood sample, you can find out what antibodies (IgE in this case) are present for a range of possible specific allergens – so we can diagnose almost irrefutably what patients are allergic to.
Specific IgE testing is a very good way of screening patients for allergy, particularly when groups of allergens, or mixes, are used.
Component IgE testing is even more specific, as it identifies the exact part of the allergen that the patient is allergic to. For example, BetV1 is a component allergen found in Birch pollen. It is useful to test for this as standard Birch pollen allergen has a very similar structure to other allergens, such as hazel nut and shellfish (prawn in particular). Thus a specific IgE test in the face of marked Birch pollen sensitivity (hay fever), may also show up as a prawn sensitivity. However if the component BetV1 is elevated, that is true Birch pollen allergy.
Skin prick tests, total IgE
Other tests, like total amount of IgE, are not particularly useful, however they can give a guide as to overall severity of allergy, and as to whether specific testing has revealed a true allergy.
Skin prick tests are very helpful in confirming severity and tolerance in the face of a high specific IgE blood test result. They can also be used for testing out specific allergies that the patient may feel they suffer, and to indicate what the chances are of an anaphyllactic reaction (a severe life threatening allergic response).
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Blood allergy testing for total IgE and comprehensive range of mixes: £250
Specific IgE: £20 per antigen
Skin prick test: £30 for positive and negative control plus one allergen.
Each subsequent allergen, add £15
Clinic endoscopy £100
Check out our Allergies FAQ page to find quick answers to the following questions:
Are allergy tests accurate?
How much do allergy tests cost?
Are allergy tests reliable?
Are allergy tests covered by insurance?
Are allergy tests painful?
How are allergy tests done?
Are food allergy tests accurate?
Can allergy tests be wrong?
Can allergy tests be done on babies?
Can allergy tests make you sick
Treatment is mainly for symptom relief. However, some patients who are severely allergic may need to carry an adrenaline pen with them in case of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction).
Rule #1: Once you know what substance you are sensitive to, avoid it!
Make effort to prepare your environment to minimise contact if it can’t be avoided completely – this particularly relates to house dust mite sensitivity.
If you continue to have symptoms, you will need medication. We can prescribe various treatments — steroids work very well, whether as sprays, creams, tablets, inhalers or depot injections. Antihistamines, anti-leukotrienes and mast cell stabilisers are all regularly required, usually as tablets. Treatment should be carried out under the supervision of an experienced doctor, such as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, an Allergy Specialist or a Dermatologist. In cases of intransigent nose blockage due to allergy, surgery may also help.
Sometimes a course of desensitisation (immunotherapy) can also help, although this is reserved for the most severe cases as it is expensive and can be dangerous. Its mode of action is poorly understood, although it does appear to offer benefit.