Clinical Review

ABC of allergies: Good allergy practice

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7130.535 (Published 14 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:535
  1. A B Kay

    Abstract

    Allergic diseases result from an exaggerated response of the immune system to external substances. They are a common and increasing cause of illness and in Britain affect about 1 in 6 of the population. The annual cost to the NHS and the Department of Health for asthma alone is in excess of £750m. Although the public is concerned that the NHS has inadequate facilities for diagnosing and treating allergic diseases, there are many allergy clinics in the NHS. These are usually linked to specific specialties (such as chest diseases; ear, nose, and throat disease; paediatrics; dermatology; and gastroenterology). The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology provides a regularly updated list of allergy clinics in the NHS (obtainable from the BSACI Secretariat, Membership Services, 66 Weston Park, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0HL).

    Most major hospitals have facilities for allergy testing

    Good allergy practice

    • Teamwork by doctors, nurses, and dietitians is essential

    • The investigation of allergic diseases includes skin tests and challenge procedures—that is, tests for food allergy—as well as various specialised laboratory investigations

    • Good clinical practice by providers and the effective use of allergy services by purchasers should improve prognosis and cut the costs of treating allergic diseases

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