What is an allergy?

An allergy is what happens when your immune system has an abnormal reaction to a particular substance that is harmless to most people. These substances are known as allergens and are found in many everyday items in the environment such as pollen or animal dander - or food such as nuts, fruit or shellfish.

Typical symptoms

Fortunately, allergic reactions tend to be mild for most people, causing irritation but manageable symptoms such as sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes, coughing and an itchy rash. But occasionally, allergic reactions can be serious, causing breathing difficulties and in some instances, a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.

When to see a GP

Some symptoms of allergic reactions can also be caused by other conditions and a GP can help determine whether it's an allergy. For mild allergies, our GPs can offer advice and treatment to help manage the issue. If the allergy is more severe or it's unclear what has caused the reaction, our GPs can refer you to a specialist for testing.