Can you test for allergies at home in the UK?

Children and families have ever increasing demands upon their time and well-being. We know that juggling a professional career in conjunction with a busy home-life creates a mountain of hurdles with knock-on tasks.

Proactive Allergy therefore offers a remote consultation service, compete with home blood testing kit for confirming diagnoses and recommending treatment.

Some high-street and online businesses are selling inaccurate and misleading allergy tests

The NICE Food Allergy Guidance warns that many online providers test without medical validity, causing families to waste their time and money. The National Institute of Clinical Excellence specifically warns that vega test, applied kinesiology and hair sample analysis are not to be used in the diagnosis of food allergy. Similarly, it warns that the IgG testing (of the online ‘York Test’) should be avoided. This Nature article has shown that even when testing for DNA abnormalities, 40% of home test DNA kits are triggering false positive results.

Throughout recent lock-downs and the increasing waiting times, businesses offering online testing have been booming. This has led the British Association of Dermatologists to announce a Press Release in September 2020 highlighting that the majority of online allergy tests are invalid and unsafe. Time and again, I see busy families who have been sucked in to paying money for tests that advise them to stop eating all the foods that they regularly eat. This causes a lot of distress and upheaval.

Even valid high street tests cannot interpret the results

New technology brings new opportunities, however it can also sting in the tail! The current speed of technology development means that medical tests are routinely delivering more and more information, however the art is in their rationale interpretation. Even for IgE microarray multi-test panels, only some of the allergen sensitisation tests are accurate enough to carry through a complete diagnostic signal. There is a risk that widespread testing leads to a storm of false positive signals.

As highlighted by the ‘Testing Wisely’ initiative;

Allergy tests, without a doctor’s exam, usually are not reliable

  • The relevance of these individual tests is questionable if no one has discussed your child’s history with you
  • IgE levels of increase over time, even to innocuous allergens that are not related to disorders
  • Some test results can actually be reassuring if they are raised

The answer, therefore, is to ensure excellent access to a Proactive Opinion and guide appropriate testing in accordance with the families’ capacity where indicated.

What does a remote consultation involve?

Consultations are booked in the routine manner, with the consultation link shared in advance;

  • The video link supports a data-secure video consultation
  • Family members can dial-in from different locations if they are not together
  • Skin examination may be undertaken so long as excellent daylight can shine onto the affected area
  • Where examination is difficult, photos can be shared securely in advance using the secure email system at Welcome@Proactive-allergy.com

What do allergy tests test for?

Allergic reactions are triggered if someone has been producing IgE antibodies which specifically recognises a tiny protein allergen. Patients are allergic to the allergen if the show a reproducible immediate reaction on exposure to the same allergen.

The tests which confirm allergy quantify allergen-specific IgE which is termed ‘sensitisation’. To be confident of a genuine allergy, it is important to take a full allergy history, assess the likelihood and dose of exposure and then consider which tests would be most valid. To be confident of a diagnosis, the sensitisation result has to be high enough in relation to the specificity if the history to prove the diagnosis.

Testing can be accessed in a variety of ways according to capacity of the family:

  • Specific blood recommendations made by Proactive Allergy and requested by GP from the local primary care laboratory – please relay results to Welcome@Proactive-allergy.com
  • Invited to blood-taking-centre from HCA paediatric phlebotomy clinic (Chiswick Health Centre or Portland Hospital)
  • Invited to any Spire Healthcare Facility with paediatric phlebotomy clinic local to the patient
  • Drop in blood test to The Doctors Laboratory central specimen centre, 76 Wimpole Street, W1G 9RT & contactable on patientreception@tdlpathology.com
  • Home blood testing kit, sampled with home ‘heel-prick’ lancets or via another local phlebotomy service

How does home allergy testing work?

Parents who do not want their child to miss school are ideal to benefit from this approach. They should;

  • Be older than 5 years
  • Have a parent who is comfortable to undertake the finger-prick procedure OR have access to a local GP-recommended phlebotomy service for sampling
  • Be happy to collect a small free-flowing sample of approximately 3 millilitres
  • Send away the sample with the child’s identification details to the laboratory
  • Await the follow up consultation where the results will be discussed in the light of your child’s history

The best result for your child is an appropriate consultation, testing based according to need, access and convenience with responsive feedback and guidance. At Proactive Allergy, we are keen to design the service around your needs.

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