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Four questions could help to see if you really have an allergy

Do you really have an allergy or could your symptoms be caused by something else?
Jane Kirby, PA

ASKING people four simple questions could rule out those who mistakenly believe they have an allergy and pursue costly tests, researchers say.

Experts from the University of Edinburgh said "a significant number of people mistakenly believe they have allergies and use both NHS and their own time and resources pursuing unnecessary investigations".

In a study of 143 people, published in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), skin prick and blood tests were compared with the results of a questionnaire aimed at identifying people who had an allergy. The results meant experts were able to boil down the questionnaire to just four simple questions.

These were: Do you have, or have you ever had, hayfever? Do any of your parents or siblings have, or have they ever had, hayfever? Do your allergy symptoms vary when you go from place to place (for example, on holiday)? Is there a specific trigger that always sets off your allergy symptoms?

The authors said the findings may help family GPs work out the risk of allergy, although they said larger studies should be carried out.

Allergy UK said it welcomes new research and awaits the outcomes of a larger study to validate the screening questionnaire.

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