Introduction to Allergy Allergic problems are very common in Scotland. Recent estimates from The University of Edinburgh’s Allergy and Respiratory Research Group suggest that these problems now affect 1 in 3 of the general population at some point in their lives. The main allergic problems seen in primary care are listed in Box 1. These conditions can have a major adverse impact on individuals and family members, are responsible for considerable use of NHS resources, and a substantial wider impact on society. Taking a careful history and then, if appropriate, ordering relevant diagnostic tests can be very helpful in: • Making an accurate clinical diagnosis • Deciding whether the problems have an underlying allergic basis • Informing decisions on clinical management This guide aims to provide practical advice on the tests that are available, when they should be requested and how to appropriately interpret and act on the results of these investigations.
Box 1: Main allergic problems seen in primary care • • • • • • • • •
Atopic dermatitis/eczema Food allergy Allergic rhinitis/hay fever Pollen food syndrome Asthma Drug allergy Venom Allergy Urticaria/angioedema Anaphylaxis