IgE-mediated allergy: what is it and how do I spot it?

How to treat an allergy


The best treatment of an allergy is its avoidance or minimising exposure to the allergen concerned. However, for obvious reasons, this is not always possible. Common treatments include oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, eye drops and topical steroid creams to help control reactions. Increasingly, immunotherapy is being used as well. Occasionally, short courses of steroids can be used in some people.

What you need to know about anaphylaxis

This is the most severe form of allergic reaction. True anaphylaxis is life-threatening. In anaphylaxis, the chemicals that cause the allergic reaction (histamine) are released into the bloodstream usually minutes after the exposure.

Anaphylaxis requires urgent medical attention. If you or a person you're with experiences the following symptoms as a result of an allergic reaction you must dial 999.

  • Wheezing or chest tightness, similar to a severe asthma attack
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat, restricting the airways. This can cause noisy breathing (especially on breathing in), a cough or a change in voice
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure (called hypotension) leading to shock
  • Dizziness, confusion, collapse
  • A sense of impending doom
  • Loss of consciousness and sometimes coma.

Anaphylaxis treatment

People at known risk of anaphylaxis should carry an EpiPen® and medic alert. These contain adrenaline, which acts like a rescue medication to people going into anaphylaxis. If you know someone that carries one, be sure to know how to use it.

If a reaction has required an EpiPen®, an ambulance must be called, even if the person feels better. This is because adrenaline effects are short-lived and delayed reactions can occur, so they may well need further treatment and observation in hospital with antihistamines, steroids and oxygen in most cases too.

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