Information taken from:
Allergy UK is the leading national charity dedicated to supporting the estimated 21 million allergy sufferers in the UK. Allergy UK runs a series of annual awareness weeks to draw attention to the plight of the allergy sufferer. These weeks highlight the issues faced by those with allergies, and are designed to get people talking about allergy at key times throughout the year.
Is it an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?
Allergy – a reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance. An example for an allergy is a rash after taking Penicillin. Getting diarrhoea after using antibiotics is a side effect and must not be confused with an allergy as this antibiotic could still be chosen in a life threatening situation.
Sensitivity – the exaggeration of the normal effects of a substance; for example, the caffeine in a cup of coffee may cause extreme symptoms, such as palpitations and trembling
Intolerance – where a substance causes unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhoea, but doesn’t involve the immune system; people with an intolerance to certain foods can typically eat a small amount without having any problems. An example for an intolerance is diarrhoea when consuming dairy.
An allergy is a reaction the body has to a particular food or substance.
Allergies are very common. They’re thought to affect more than one in four people in the UK at some point in their lives.
They are particularly common in children. Some allergies go away as a child gets older, although many are lifelong. Adults can develop allergies to things they weren’t previously allergic to.
Having an allergy can be a nuisance and affect your everyday activities, but most allergic reactions are mild and can be largely kept under control. Severe reactions can occasionally occur, but these are uncommon.
Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. The more common allergens include:
- grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- dust mites
- animal dander (tiny flakes of skin or hair)
- food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cow’s milk
- insect bites and stings
- medication – including ibuprofen, aspirin, and certain antibiotics
- latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
- mould – these can release small particles into the air that you can breathe in
- household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes
Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who aren’t allergic to them.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Allergic reactions usually happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.
They can cause:
- a runny or blocked nose
- red, itchy, watery eyes
- wheezing and coughing
- a red, itchy rash
- worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms
Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can occur. This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment. An example for anaphylaxis is a severe swelling / wheezing following a wasp sting and the inability to breathe.
Getting help for allergies
See your GP if you think you or your child might have had an allergic reaction to something.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions. Your GP can help determine whether it’s likely you have an allergy.
If your GP thinks you might have a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to help manage the condition.
If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, your GP may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.
How to manage an allergy
In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.
For example, if you have a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it. The Food Standards Agency has more information about food allergen labelling.
There are also several medications available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:
- antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen to stop a reaction occurring
- decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
- lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
- steroid medication – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can help reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction
For some people with very severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.
This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years, so your body gets used to it and doesn’t react to it so severely.
What causes allergies?
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a particular substance as though it’s harmful.
It’s not clear why this happens, but most people affected have a family history of allergies or have closely related conditions such as asthma or eczema.
The number of people with allergies is increasing every year. The reasons for this are not understood, but one of the main theories is it’s the result of living in a cleaner, germ-free environment, which reduces the number of germs our immune system has to deal with.
It’s thought this may cause it to overreact when it comes into contact with harmless substances.
Year of Self Care
Each month there will be a different self care theme – you can see the list on the ‘Calendar’ page. For example, in February we’ll be sending out information and advice on mental well-being, while in June we’ll be focusing on carer well-being. Keep an eye of this webpage and our @BFC_Health twitter feed.
We want to get more people, organisations and business involved in Self Care. So, if you would like us to promote your event, service or initiative, just get in touch. It doesn’t have to fit with the theme of the month – we will get your information out there at any time!
Also, get in touch if you’d like our help to set up and run a self care related event or project – just ask. We are always happy to get involved and make it a success.
Bracknell Forest Self-Care Guide:
The Bracknell Forest Self-Care guide provides information, advice and links to services related to long-term conditions and lifestyle factors. Each chapter has a video which gives a summary of the key messages on each topic.
The Long-Term Conditions Guide gives you practical information and signposting to services to help you manage your condition. Guides can be found for; Arthritis, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Coronary Heart Disease, Dementia, Depression and anxiety, Diabetes, Falls, Hypertension and Stroke.
Lifestyle information is available on Alcohol, Diet and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Smoking.
All guides can be accessed through the Self-Care webpage:
This directory is for everyone who lives and works in and around Bracknell Forest. If you use adult social care, health care or other help and support services, if you fund your own support, or simply wish to find out more about what services and support are available in your local community, you can find all the information and advice in one place.
If you would like to find out about events and activities in the local community, you may also find the community directory helpful:
The Helping You Stay Independent Guide
The Helping You Stay Independent Guide lists activities, events and groups around Bracknell Forest that can support individuals to remain healthy and independent.
To view or download the Guide as a pdf please visit:
Did you know more than three million people in the UK work and also care for someone? Juggling work and care can be a challenge, but as a carer you have rights at work that can make this easier. There is support available to help you continue both working and caring. You have rights to request flexible working and to challenge decisions if you are not happy with the outcome. You may also have rights to various forms of time off. Your employer may offer other forms of support such as unpaid leave or telephone access to the person you are caring for during your working hours.
If you are an unpaid carer and appear to need support, you can ask for a carer’s assessment from Bracknell Forest Council to look at how you can be supported to carry on caring and look after your own wellbeing. The assessment will work out how you can be supported and whether you qualify for support from Bracknell Forest Council.
For more information:
- call the Carers UK’s Carers Line on 0808 808 7777 or visit www.carersuk.org
- contact Bracknell Forest Council Adult Social Care on 01344 351500 or visit www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/carers
- visit the Carer’s Trust website www.carers.org
Following the success of the Olympics’ Gamesmakers Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group have been inspired to create a community of HealthMakers who can support one another in their long term health conditions.
We know that patients with long term health conditions often face crisis with their health which can be frightening and can lead to a feeling of having lost control. We know that most patients want to have confidence in looking after themselves and in recognising the signs when they need help.
We are looking for people who want to make a difference for themselves and for others by becoming HealthMakers.
What will HealthMakers gain?
- Acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes for good health and wellbeing in their condition.
- Opportunities to influence health services and improve patient care.
- Meeting and working alongside others who are also keen to make a difference.
- Opportunities to raise the patient voice within the Clinical Commissioning Group.
- Listening skills and ability to learn from others.
- To inspire and be inspired.
- Create and participate in strong local networks / groups around their condition and train others to do so.
- Make a strong and local difference and improve health outcomes for others.
- Reduce the need for medication and hospital admissions.
- Evidence of team building/counselling and leadership for their CVs.
- Certificates will be provided which can be used to support continued professional development.