Seeing a doctor

Seeing a doctor for the first time about allergies and getting a referral: 
  • right_arrow_orange_icon When visiting your local surgery about allergies for the first time, you should see a doctor or nurse with some knowledge of allergy
  • right_arrow_orange_icon The doctor should know where to send you for an allergy referral, the level of service offered at the nearest clinic, and where there is a specialist-led clinic
  • right_arrow_orange_icon If your allergy is serious or potentially life-threatening, you should be given an urgent allergy referral, to a doctor with the appropriate expertise
  • right_arrow_orange_icon You have the right to request a referral to a specialist-led clinic, even if there isn’t one in your immediate local area
  • right_arrow_orange_icon Each child should be referred to a doctor with the appropriate competence in allergy – in many cases that will be a consultant paediatric allergist
  • right_arrow_orange_icon All patients who require it should have access to a full allergy service with a dedicated allergy team

Allergy Clinic Referral

If you think you have an allergy, see your GP as soon as possible, even if you’re unsure about just how serious it is.

 

Your GP can refer you to an allergy clinic for further investigation and allergy testing. They can find allergy clinic information by visiting British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI)

Allergy Specialists

Here’s what to expect when seeing an allergy specialist:

  • You have the right to ask for a second opinion from a specialist in allergy if you feel you’re not getting the right level of service to manage your condition.
  • Except for the simpler allergies, such as mild hay fever, allergy patients should have an allergy diagnosis. This should include a search for the allergens causing symptoms and an assessment of how the allergy is affecting different parts of the body.
  • Most patients with serious and more complex allergies need allergy care based on a personalised health care plan to support the day-to-day management of their allergies.
  • Adequate time should be set aside to develop the health care plan, with a full discussion of symptoms, treatment, appropriate medication and allergen avoidance.

Care during and after an emergency

Care during an emergency

If you’re at risk of life-threatening allergies, you should be able to feel confident that, during any emergency, those responsible for your care are following agreed, standard emergency management protocols. After any serious reaction you should be referred to an allergy specialist irrespective of whether you have seen a consultant in the past. This referral appointment should investigate the triggers that caused the reaction, and focus on future avoidance and treatment.

Ongoing care and management

If you're suspected to be at risk from a serious allergy, you should have at least one visit to a local, consultant allergist who provides a dedicated allergy service. This service should include modern diagnostics and the ability to administer allergen-specific immunotherapy.

Allergy action plans

Having a written allergy action plan is crucial to help you reduce the risks of a serious allergy. An allergy action plan will help you and others (such as relatives, close friends and colleagues) recognise if you’re beginning to have a reaction and know what to do in an emergency.

Your allergy clinic or GP may help you set this up, or our helpline can also advise you. You can find free children’s allergy action plans on the BSACI website. The plan needs to be completed by your child’s health care professional, not by a parent or a teacher.

 

Adrenaline auto-injectors 

Adrenaline is the first line of treatment for serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). It is available on prescription in a pre-loaded injection device (known as an adrenaline auto-injector or AAI).

Anyone who is at risk of anaphylaxis should always carry two in-date AAIs with them at all times.

Two AAIs are needed in case one misfires, or a second dose is needed.

Get a health professional to show you how to use your injector. Ask the doctor who prescribed it, the practice nurse at your local GP surgery or the school nurse. Our AllergyWise online training courses can also help, or you can watch demonstration videos on the manufacturer’s website.

There are three adrenaline auto injectors (AAIs) available on prescription in the UK. The manufacturers of all three offer trainer devices so you can practise using your AAI. 

Remember that children who have been prescribed Jext or Emerade 0.15mg adrenaline injectors need to go on to the 0.3mg dose when they weigh 25-30kg. This is likely to be somewhere between 5-11 years old.

Checking your device 

Adrenaline degrades over time and may be less effective after the expiry date, so make sure you replace your AAIs on time.

Check your adrenaline auto-injector devices regularly to make sure the liquid is clear and colourless. If it seems discoloured or contains particles, replace it. If you have just received a new device and it looks defective, return it immediately and report this using the MHRA’s Yellow Card Scheme.

You can find out more about adrenaline in our factsheet here.

Expiry alert service

Remember to sign up to the expiry alert service with your adrenaline auto-injector brand.

Asthma control 

If you have asthma as well as allergies, your asthma should be well controlled.  Poorly controlled asthma raises the chances of any allergic reaction being serious. If your asthma needs more treatment than usual, you should take extreme care to avoid those foods or substances that might cause a reaction. You will also need to discuss your asthma with your GP. Everyone with asthma should be seen at least once each year by their GP or asthma nurse to ensure their symptoms are well-controlled.