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Allergy: truths and myths

What you need to know about allergy. 5 myths and 5 truths about allergy.

Myths

1) You can catch allergy from someone else. Wrong! Allergy is not transmissible from one person to another. It is a disorder of our immune system, and is from our genes.

2) Allergy is a killer. Well it can be, but it is extremely rare. The vast majority of people with allergy, whether it be food or pollen, will just find it a nuisance.

3) Allergy gets worse with age Wrong! Allergy often improves or even disappears as we get older.

4) Short haired or hairless animals/pets dont trigger allergy. Wrong! Its not the hair that we react to in allergy, but the proteins in the animals saliva, which they use to groom and clean themselves.

5) Allergy and intolerance are the same! Wrong! Particularly when thinking about food allergies and intolerances, symptoms are similar but the underlying mechanism is very different.

Truths

1) Allergy is easily treated Yes, the mainstay of allergy treatment is with antihistamines and steroids, either as sprays, inhalers, creams or tablets.

2) Allergy can cause asthma and loss of sense of taste. Yes, allergy is one of the main causes of asthma, and in these patients polyps can appear in the nose, which block the passage of inhaled air to the smell receptors - so sense of smell is lost, and with that the sense of taste also.

3) Mouth tingling and swelling when eating can be caused by birch pollen allergy? Yes, this is oral allergy syndrome, and occurs particularly when birch allergy sufferers eat food containing hazelnut - as it cross reacts with the birch pollen antibody. People often mistake this for anaphylaxis - but it's not.

4) Allergy is genetic - you can inherit it Yes, there is an increased incidence of allergy in the children of allergic parents.

5) Allergy can make you blind? Yes. severe atopic keratoconjunctivitis, which is an allergic eye disease, can lead to blindness.

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© 2020 by Mike Dilkes ENT Laser Surgery

General Medical Council: 3096325

Mike Dilkes is a leading ENT surgeon based in London. He specialises in laser surgery for treatment of a range of Ear, Nose & Throat issues including tonsillitis, tonsil stones, snoring, sleep apnoea, cancers, catarrh and allergies. Typical treatments include laser tonsillectomy under local anaesthetic (also called tonsillotomy, tonsil resurfacing, tonsil crytolysis) or general anaesthetic (also called intracapsular laser tonsillectomy, inside-out laser tonsillectomy), palatoplasty, septoplasty, turbinoplasty, uvulectomy and posterior turbinoplasty for post nasal drip. Principal Mike Dilkes has over 20 years of consultancy experience and around 5,000 ENT operations and procedures performed.