Understanding Allergy – by Dr Sophie Farooque

In this concise guide, Dr Sophie Farooque – a Consultant in Allergy at St. Mary’s Hospital in London and one of the UK’s leading experts on the treatment of allergic disorders – gives an excellent overview of allergies that will be a very useful guide for the public and also for health professionals.

Allergic disorders have increased substantially in prevalence in recent decades. This is shown in our personal experience as well as by research on the epidemiology of allergic disorders. When I was in school, problems such as hay fever and food allergy were all uncommon in my classmates. This in contrast to now, when many families will have a member who suffers from an allergic disorder. In milder cases, these disorders can be irritating and reduce people’s quality of life. But in more severe cases, they can lead to hospitalisation and sometimes even to death.

Hence, some knowledge of allergies and how they can be managed is very helpful to families who have a member who suffers from an allergy; and can improve their quality of life, as well as allowing them to make better use of NHS services for allergy, whether these are received from general practices or specialist allergy clinics. It is a sad fact that the provision of specialist allergy services by the NHS is well below the need for them, leading to many families and allergy sufferers relying on self-management or on advice from their general practitioners.

In her book, Dr Sophie Farooque covers the most common allergic disorders – such as allergic rhinitis, food allergy, and drug allergies; as well as anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. She also discusses “red herrings”; problems that people think are due to an allergy but which in fact have another cause. She also gives very useful advice on self-management and on when medication would be beneficial.

A better understanding of allergies and their treatment is essential for many people and I highly recommend this very readable book for anyone who wants to learn more about the topic and manage their allergies better or improve the treatment of allergies in their children.

Understanding Allergy is published as part of the Penguin Life Experts series and is available from Amazon and other book sellers.

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