The University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) asked visitors to its Allergy Centre what their main worries about their allergies were. Answers to these questions have been addressed in three short videos that star the Centre’s very own allergy specialists.
The idea for the videos came about after research* showed that referrals to allergy specialists are historically very low and it can take around six trips to a GP before a formal referral is made. A proper diagnosis from an allergy specialist can mean a patient’s quality of life can be improved through specialised treatments. By telling people more about the service and how it can help them to manage their condition, it is hoped that they will ask their GP about the expert help available for allergies.
Allergies, pathological conditions that underpin a number of diseases, can mean anything from sneezing due to hay fever to life-threatening severe anaphylactic reactions, to foods such as peanuts. They can come and go throughout childhood and adult life, especially where food allergy is concerned.
Simon Prentice, 34, started receiving treatment at the UHSM Allergy Centre for his severe allergy to grass and birch pollen in 2011. Simon, who lives in Sale, has suffered from this type of hay fever his whole life. He said, “I’d always had hay fever as a child, but it became worse and worse the older I got. I started on immunotherapy treatment at the Allergy Centre and I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in my symptoms. The allergy tests I had at the Centre showed I was allergic to a range of things, and even told me which type of nuts I’m allergic to. This has given me peace of mind and has allowed me to make simple changes to help reduce my symptoms.
“My hay fever tends to start in March and last until October, so being able to manage it more effectively means that it’s no longer having such a negative impact on my life. I used to find things such as driving quite difficult but now I’m much better.”
Professor Adnan Custovic, who is a Professor of Allergy at the University of Manchester’s Institute of Inflammation and Repair, established the UHSM Allergy Centre in 2004 and who makes an appearance in the video. He said: “We want people to know that we’re here and that we can help them with their allergies, they don’t have to suffer. When allergies are properly diagnosed, they can be treated accordingly which means they are not the ‘life sentence’ that some people consider them.
“Hay fever symptoms are easy to treat with nasal sprays or antihistamines, but people need to ask their GP to see a specialist, like the ones we have at UHSM, if the treatments aren’t working. There is a general lack of awareness about our service and the help that we’re able to offer. We hope that by increasing awareness of our service we will encourage more people to find out more about getting a proper allergy diagnosis.”
Common questions addressed include whether it’s possible to live a normal life with an allergy and why allergies suddenly develop. The three videos answer specific questions on food allergy, hayfever and allergy treatment. They also feature Professor Clare Mills and Professor Angela Simpson from the University of Manchester.
To find out more about the Allergy Centre at UHSM, text ‘help’ to 81156, ask your GP or visit www.uhsm.nhs.uk/allergy for more information.
Notes for editors
Press contact: Annabel Darby 0161 291 2214 / 07881 312 429 / [email protected]
*Source: Science and Technology Sixth Report: Allergy Services, Commissioned by House of Lords 24 July 2007 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldselect/ldsctech/166/16602.htm
Notes to editors
About the UHSM Allergy Centre
The UHSM Allergy Centre was set up by Professor Adnan Custovic in January 2004. Dr Susana Marinho was recruited to the allergy team in 2009 and the service became fronted by the first dedicated full time NHS Consultant Allergist in the North West. In 2013 the service recruited its second full time Consultant Allergist, Dr Lourdes Arochena.
The service has since expanded considerably and provides comprehensive allergy care for adults, offering a holistic approach to diagnosis and management of a wide range of allergic disorders. It also has close links with the Paediatrics Service, providing the same range of comprehensive allergy care to children. It is an integrated clinical and research unit with an active research programme, ensuring that patients have access to the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases.
The service provides diagnosis of the full spectrum of allergic conditions, offering a unified approach to their management, as detailed below. We perform diagnostic skin and challenge tests, offer desensitisation (specific immunotherapy) for bee and wasp venom
allergy, allergy (rhinoconjunctivitis) to inhalant allergens such as pollen, mites, cat, etc., and desensitisation to drugs (e.g. aspirin).