Suffering from allergic reactions can affect different people in lots of different ways, and it’s not always obvious that your symptoms are due to an allergy.
Hay fever is one of the most common allergic conditions, with an estimated 10 million people in England suffering from it. You’re more likely to suffer from hay fever if you have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema.
The most common things people are allergic to are substances in the air such as pollen, animal dander (tiny flakes of skin or fur) and dust mites. Food, some types of medication and things which come into contact with the skin like perfume, soap, hair dye, and jewellery can also cause an allergic reaction.
One in four people in the UK suffers from an allergy at some point in their lives and this number is increasing each year.
Most people will recover from an allergic reaction within a few hours and often don’t need any treatment, although antihistamines, such as Piriton, can help to speed things up.
Whilst it is possible for children to ‘grow-out’ of allergies, some allergies can actually become worse the more you or your child are exposed to whatever has caused the reaction. If this is the case, speak to your local pharmacist or GP.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction vary depending on what you’re allergic to. The following is an idea of what symptoms you can expect from the most common types of allergies.
Allergies to substances in the air - including pollen (hay fever), animal dander and dust mites:
It’s possible, and actually quite common, to be allergic or intolerant to alcohol. Ingredients in alcoholic drinks (such as gluten, wheat, histamine, yeast, sulphur dioxide or sulphites) can trigger allergic reactions including nasal swelling and congestion, headache, nausea, heartburn or a rapid heartbeat.
There are a number of different treatments for allergic reactions, although in some cases simply avoiding the substance is the best way to reduce your symptoms. If you do need medication your pharmacist can help you choose the best treatment for you or your child, most of which are available over the counter.
Antihistamines work by blocking the chemical which is produced by the body when it thinks it is under attack.
If you or your child experience a severe allergic reaction, you can get instant medical advice by calling 111. For difficulty breathing and rapid swelling of the lips and face, please seek urgent advice.
NHS 111 is staffed by trained advisors, and is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The people who take 111 calls are in the same room as those who answer 999, so if they ever feel a caller needs urgent attention or an ambulance, they can arrange it immediately.
If you find you suffer from allergic reactions often or for long periods of time, it is worth speaking to your GP about an allergy test. This will help identify what you are allergic to, helping you to prevent and treat reactions in the best way.
If you're concerned about yourself, a relative or friend, call NHS 111 for medical advice, this free service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The advisors taking 111 calls are in the same room as those answering 999 calls, so if urgent attention is needed, they can arrange it immediately for you.
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