The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have today published guidelines on diagnosing food allergy in children in a primary care and community setting. These are the first allergy related guidelines to be delivered and they aim to give information to health professionals in primary care on how to suspect and diagnose food allergy and when to refer on to a more specialist service.
The guidelines were launched today, Wednesday 23rd February 2011, and as expected there has been a good deal of media interest. It was covered on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live today and I’m sure a lot more.
Find out more on the NICE website. Read: “Diagnosis and assessment of food allergy in children and young people in primary care and community settings”. Skin prick tests can identify allergies quickly and easily and really only take a few minutes to do.
The radio coverage warned against tests that are sold by online websites and health food shops which can give misleading results. I know from experience, and having tried these tests myself, that people are so desperate for a diagnosis that they’ll try anything. The problem with muscle tests and anything which isn’t testing a blood sample, is that you can get false postitives, ie. results show you are allergic to things you can quite happily eat without a problem. I took a test a long time ago and the results came up with six things correctly, which I do either have a severe allergy to, or a mild intolerance to, and five things which as far as I’m aware, I can eat without any problems. So I wouldn’t necessarily rule out these other tests categorically. Everything must be taken with a pinch of salt. The tests did help me identify one problem ingredient, celery, which is hidden in so many things, like stock cubes, sauces, soups etc. which I hadn’t realised I had a problem with. Now I am avoiding celery I have far fewer allergic attacks, and am now reintroducing it slowly into my diet.
The BBC have previously raised the issue that children may be wrongly being diagnosed with allergies in “Doubts raised over child food allergy rise”. This may well be the case, but scaremongering like this doesn’t help all the children who really do have allergies. Not many people would have a random test and then, based on nothing but the test results, avoid the recommended problem foods forever. Most people would test the results and try foods to see if they really were causing a problem. We can’t deny that allergies are on the rise so we shouldn’t make light of the issue, and these new guidelines will make such a difference for children and their parents who are seeking answers.
On the NHS Choices website you’ll find another interesting article, “NICE warns of alternative allergy tests”, which is well worth a read. It explains the different tests that are on the market.
Click here to find out why Phadia think that a blood test is so helpful to allergy sufferers. Phadia develop, manufacture and market complete blood test systems to support the clinical diagnosis and monitoring of allergy, asthma and autoimmune diseases. I wonder who that comment is from at the bottom of the page? Someone called Ruth!
I really welcome these new guidelines. If I had a pound for every time I was told I couldn’t possibly be allergic to food I’d be rich. I’m so pleased that there is more awareness now about allergies and what can cause them. Granted, allergies are not necessarily always caused by food, but it can very often be a contributing factor.
What do you think about these guidelines? What help have you had from the NHS in diagnosing your allergies?