- Why is there an increase of interest in allergy testing?
- Do people requesting allergy testing have specific symptoms?
- What is the allergy testing process and what allergies are tested?
- How can people be reassured that your allergy testing is accurate?
- What information and guidance are people given when receiving results?
- Any advice for pharmacists looking to expand their allergy services?
Allergy Testing Service
Allergies can be a perplexing and sometimes debilitating condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. John Bell & Croyden now offers blood testing to identify allergens and provide valuable insights for effective treatment. Our Pharmacy Superintendent, Reshma Malde, discusses its benefits and how it's revolutionising the way we understand and manage allergies. Join us on the journey to unlocking a healthier life..
Are you seeing increasing numbers of people interested in allergy testing? If so, do you think this is down to increasing prevalence, greater awareness of service, or greater desire to discover any allergies? Or all of these reasons?!
Over recent years we are seeing more cases of allergies coming through to the pharmacy for advice and treatment. However, in many cases, the patient/customer are unaware of root cause of allergy and just looking for symptomatic relief.
Allergy testing has mainly been accessed through GP referrals to specialist allergy clinics. However, over recent years allergy tests are becoming more available and accessible in forms such as finger prick tests or phlebotomy blood draw tests.
Having tested both types of products, the phlebotomy blood test offers a more comfortable experience.
This has been a key driver to introduce phlebotomy and specifically, the allergy testing service so we can offer customers the opportunity to identify their triggers and as a result take appropriate actions to reduce exposure to the allergen that is causing the symptoms.
The challenge now is to raise the awareness that allergy testing services are available through pharmacies, so GP’s and patients can access them more easily.
Do most people requesting allergy testing have specific symptoms, and if so which ones are most common? Or are there also people who don’t necessarily have symptoms but just want to know if they do in fact have any allergies?
Allergy symptoms can vary from person to person and can range from skin reactions such as hives to more severe anaphylaxis reactions.
Allergy testing is often sought out by customers who have been suffering from repeated or continuous flare up from their allergy for quite some time and is affecting their day-to-day activities.
What is the allergy testing process (in a nutshell) and how many different allergies are typically tested?
At John Bell & Croyden, we offer Allergy tests by taking a phlebotomy blood sample which our laboratory tests whether the IgE antibodies in the blood sample responds to one or more of 294 common allergens.
They test an extensive list of allergen markers ranging from fruit & vegetables, cereals, egg, milk, legumes & nuts, fish & sea food, meat, pets & animals, spices, insects & venoms, grass & Tree pollens, moulds and yeasts, house dust mites, and more.
Customers who have had allergy tests through John Bell and Croydon have been quite amazed at the broad range of markers that have been tested and are often very surprised to find that they have confirmed specific allergens which they may have been aware of, but quite often many have been surprised to find out about allergens that they are continually exposed to and unaware that these could be the factors that are causing them to suffer symptoms they are experiencing.
With so much talk of unreliable allergy testing and a waste of money, how are people reassured that your – or any other – allergy testing is accurate?
Allergic reactions are complex and multifactorial and an IgE antibody response is just one indicator of whether a person may suffer an allergic reaction. Therefore, allergy testing services such as ours gives a starting point for patient to identify what the possible triggers could be.
Following this, we encourage patients to seek further help and guidance from a healthcare professional such as a pharmacist who will be able to support them with appropriate advice and signpost to an allergy specialist if needed based on the triggers identified.
Upon receiving a diagnosis, what information and advice are people given in terms of avoidance, prevention, management and treatment? (naturally this will vary depending on the specific allergy, but are there some general principles?)
Allergy Testing offers a guide to potential allergens that patient or customer are sensitive to. Pharmacists and other healthcare professionals will be able to support them with advice on how to avoid exposure to the allergen, how to manage symptoms when exposed to allergen, what substitutes can be made especially with food allergies and available treatments for allergic reactions.
Is there any specific advice you would give to pharmacists who are looking to expand allergy services to patients – whether that be introducing an allergy testing service, or providing a good support for those people who come into pharmacy looking for help with their allergies?
My advice to pharmacists would be to look at sales of over-the-counter allergy treatments over the past few years. Most pharmacies may see that there has been and increase in sales indicating an opportunity to extend their offering with allergy testing services.
Pharmacists have always been in a prime position where they have offered advice and support. Allergy testing allows pharmacists to empower their patients to identify and understand the root cause to all their allergies so they're able to make better informed decisions of how to limit their exposure and manage their allergy.
If any pharmacists are in fact considering introducing an allergy testing service, are there any pointers you would give them, based on your experience and expertise in this area?
Introduction of any new services brings an opportunity to enhance the skills of our workforce, which in turn brings greater job satisfaction and secures retention.
At John Bell & Croyden, we always look at opportunities for our pharmacists, dispensers and healthcare assistants to broaden their skills and competence. Services, such as NHS Covid vaccinations through pharmacies, opened new opportunities for people other than pharmacists to be trained up as vaccinators. At John Bell & Croyden we have continued to build on this by offering various other services that enhances the technical skills of our dispensers such as PCR and now phlebotomy blood tests.
Finally, do you envisage pharmacy becoming much more involved in overall allergy management, given the increasing demand for support and move towards pharmacy from primary care? If so, in what ways do you think pharmacists will play the biggest roles?
Pharmacies are increasingly becoming the first port of call for many people not just for medicine supply but also for over-the-counter solutions and advice sign posting and support.
As the demands on NHS services continue to rise, an opportunity opens for pharmacists to play a more active role in many areas such as allergy management.
I believe we can further build on the allergy testing services by offering a much fuller and broader services though the introduction of independent pharmacist prescribers who choose to specialise in allergy.