An allergy is an unusual response by the body to an allergen which is normally harmless.

This can manifest as:

  • a food allergy in response to the intake of a usually harmless food such as egg or peanut
  • a respiratory allergy (nasal or chest symptoms) in response to an allergen in the air such as house dust mite or pollen
  • a drug allergy in response to medications
  • an insect venom allergy such as a bee allergy
  • rashes such as eczema or hives

Allergies have increased dramatically over the past few decades, and at any given time up to 30-50% of the population may be suffering from an allergic condition.

However, very often allergies are not diagnosed and managed optimally, and rather misunderstood. Many conditions can also mimic allergies and need to be differentiated from true allergic conditions.

I suspect that I have/my child has an allergy : whom do I see?

Allergies are common but not always that simple to diagnose. If you suspect you or your child has an allergy, the first piece of advice is not to self-diagnose. Also, we strongly advise against “alternative” tests offered by many alternative practioners to diagnose food allergy: these tests are not scientifically accurate and usually overdiagnose allergies. Your GP or paediatrician can help you to diagnose conditions which may mimic allergies such as a gut infection causing diarrhoea, or a virus causing a skin rash.

Most cases will benefit from seeing an allergy specialist.

Allergology has now been recognized as a subspecialty in South Africa and in many other countries, so certain paediatricians, physicians or family doctors receive specific in-depth training and certification in allergology. An allergy specialist is trained for many years specifically to deal with all aspects of allergies: diagnosis, investigation, and management.

There are fewer than 20 fully qualified allergy specialists in South Africa, and at the Kidsallergy clinic you have 2 such specialists under one roof!

Copyright © Claudia Gray