Allergies and their diagnosis

Allergies are very common in Australia and they are on the increase in both adults and children. About one in three people will be affected at some time in their lives.

Allergies can make your life miserable. But testing can help you find out just what substances, called allergens, trigger your symptoms. In this way you can take control of your health by avoiding the relevant allergens and have treatment that is specific to your own situation.

An allergy is an overreaction by the body's immune system to often everyday things that should not normally bother people. Allergens, the substances that cause allergies, can be found in the environment - the places where we live and work - and in food.

Allergic sensitivity tends to run in families. Most people with allergies are affected by more than one substance. However, everyone reacts differently; something that is a problem for one person may not be for someone else.


Allergies and their diagnosis leaflet   

Click image to view the .pdf file

In most allergic reactions the immune system responds to an allergen by creating a particular antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).

The first time you are exposed to the allergen you are unlikely to have a major reaction; instead, your immune system creates IgE antibodies and you become 'sensitised'. But the next time you come into contact with the allergen, the IgE identifies it and triggers the release of chemicals, including histamine, that cause your symptoms. It is quite possible that sensitisation occurs through the skin or the nasal passages, which is often the case for infants.

What are the most common allergens?
  Food  Environment
  Dairy Products Animals
  Nuts Grasses
  Egg   Insects
  Prawns   Moulds
  Fish Trees
  Soy Weeds
   Common Allergy Myths - debunked 

  • Myth: Milk causes hay fever
    FACT: Milk may irritate the throat and cause a feeling of mucus build up, but it does not cause hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • Myth: You can't be allergic to fruit
    FACT: A very wide variety of fruits can cause allergy, sometimes anaphylaxis; common fruits include banana, kiwifruit and mango
  • Myth: Tree pollen (wattle) is a common cause of allergies in Queensland
    FACT: Whilst tree pollens may contribute to allergen load, grass pollens cause the vast majority of plant derived allergies 

Asthma (wheezing), allergic rhinitis (runny itchy nose), allergic conjunctivitis (weeping itchy eyes), atopic dermatitis (itchy skin with red inflamed areas), urticaria (hives), and tongue and throat swelling.

Anaphylaxis is a less common but far more serious reaction that affects the whole body, can be life-threatening, and requires urgent medical treatment.