Allergy patient information
Find out what to expect when you come to our allergy clinic for your appointment.
Before your appointment
You can expect to receive an appointment within 13 to 18 weeks of referral – urgent patients will be offered an earlier appointment. You are welcome to bring a relative, close friend or carer with you to your appointment. You are also very welcome to ask for a chaperone and we will endeavour to provide one for you.
What to bring
If you think you may have had an allergic reaction to an unusual food, you may be asked to bring a small sample of the food with you to the clinic for testing. In this circumstance you may receive a letter from the clinic advising you which foods to bring. This food should not be mixed with any other products, such as sauces and should also be individually packaged, e.g. bring a whole piece of fruit rather than a pre-prepared fruit salad. If you have concerns about what you should bring, please contact us on 020 3312 1542.
Some appointments such as the drug allergy clinic appointments can take several hours. We advise you to bring something to do, such as a book to read and some lunch if your appointment is likely to cross over into lunchtime.
What to do
If you are taking antihistamine tablets (such as piriton, zirtek, benadryl or clairtyn) you need to stop them four days before your appointment as they may interfere with skin tests. If you have an allergic reaction before your appointment please treat it as you normally would and use antihistamines if necessary. Skin prick testing should not be performed if you are wheezy. If you need your blue reliever inhaler on the day of your appointment you should still attend but let a nurse or doctor know that you have been wheezy.
Please contact the allergy nurse specialists on 020 3312 1542 if you:
- are unsure when to stop your antihistamines
- feel that stopping your antihistamines is not appropriate
- have had to take antihistamines for an allergic reaction in the days before your appointment
The nurses are available Monday to Friday between 09.00 and 17.00. Please leave your name and telephone number and one of our nurses will return your call.
During your appointment
Waiting times can be up to 30 minutes. Please note that drug allergy clinic day case appointments typically take two to six hours.
Please note that our hospitals are teaching hospitals, so medical students may be present for some appointments. If you do not wish to have them in the room please let the nurse or doctor know and the students will be asked to step outside.
You are likely to initially be seen in our general allergy clinic and if necessary will be referred to one of our specialist allergy clinics or for more specific allergy testing and treatment. At your first appointment the doctor will take a detailed history of your symptoms and the likely triggers. You may also undergo skin prick testing (either before or after the doctor has seen you) to help us diagnose the cause of your allergy.
Skin prick testing is a quick way of identifying which substances you are allergic to. The substance that causes the allergic response is called an allergen and skin prick testing is an accurate way to test for specific allergens. These tests are very safe, quicker than a blood test and we are usually able to see the results within 20 minutes. We are able to perform skin prick tests for a wide range of allergy triggers known as inhalant aero-allergens, which include pollen, house dust mite, moulds and pets. The allergy clinic also performs skin prick tests for all common food allergens. If skin tests are not possible or give confusing results a blood allergy test may be required.
If you have a suspected drug allergy, you will either be initially invited to our general allergy clinic where a detailed history will be taken and a management plan formulated; or you will be referred directly to our day-case unit for allergy skin prick tests, intradermal tests and an oral challenge.
After your appointment
At your consultation, your doctor will explain any follow-up care that may be appropriate.
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