Is your Doctor helping or hindering your food allergy health issues?
According to charity Allergy UK this week, patients with food allergies are being let down by their busy GPs who also lack specialist allergy knowledge. The UK charity criticised doctors for failing to take symptoms seriously, including telling patients it's "all in their minds".
And that's a lot of patients. Allergy UK estimates that 2% of Britons have a food allergy, and that up to 45% may have a food intolerance resulting in irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, eczema and migraines.
When a person suffers from a food allergy their body sees the food as a foreign substance, it mounts an attack against it using its immune system to produce IgE antibodies, which triggers an allergic reaction. In the most extreme cases anaphylactic shock results and can result in death without immediate treatment.
When a person has a food intolerance, rather than a full blown allergy, the body is simply unable to fully breakdown or digest certain foods, resulting in bloating, migraines, aches and pains etc, although the immune system is not involved in creating any of these symptoms.
Wheat-free.org's advice is that if you feel that you do have some form of food allergy or intolerance then your doctor should be your first port of call. Don't be tempted to pay for tests that you send away for, or take in a non-registered or non-medical facility. Your doctor will advise you of your options, and if necessary refer you to a hospital based allergy specialist or dietician.
Don't be put off by your doctor's lack of understanding or possible indifference if you really feel that foods are causing you illness. Before you visit your doctor keep a food diary for a couple of weeks logging exactly what you eat, and any symptoms resulting. Take this with you when you visit your doctor, some proof will be more helpful than simply saying that you think you have a food allergy because sometimes you get a bit sick.
For more food allergy information visit the Allergy UK website.