Allergies and sensitivities to foods, perfumes, cigarettes and other inhalants can turn any outing into a nightmare.

Breakspear Medical has been specialising in allergy and environmental medicine for over 30 years.

The result of our low-dose immunotherapy (LDI) treatment programme is that many of our patients can eat and enjoy foods that previously caused them discomfort and be exposed to inhalants, which previously caused serious reactions.

Symptoms of allergy/sensitivity & environmental illness

Allergy means Altered Reactivity, where the body is unable to remain healthy when exposed to a substance or factor to which that body is allergic.

Contact with an allergen (the item that causes the reaction) can be with your skin, eyes, or with the lining of your lungs, mouth, oesophagus (gullet), stomach or intestine.

If you are allergic or sensitive to a food or chemical, then exposure will give you symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to perfume and you visit the perfume section of a department store, you may experience symptoms such as flu-like illness, palpitations, headache or diarrhoea. These symptoms may occur instantly or be delayed.

Delayed responses are common and the delay often makes it difficult for the allergy sufferer to recognise the cause of the reaction.

Allergies can produce an amazing diversity of symptoms and can affect any system of the body. Allergies may in fact produce underactivity or overactivity of an affected organ or system, causing the body to work inadequately.

Common symptoms include:

  • runny nose
  • tiredness
  • hyperactivity
  • coughing
  • sneezing/wheezing
  • sickness, vomiting, diarrhoea
  • excess or rapidly changing weight
  • rash/hives
  • swelling
  • migraine
  • sinus pain
  • asthma
  • thirst
  • shortness of breath
  • addictions
  • mouth ulcers
  • constipation
  • bronchitis
  • piles
  • depression
  • stiff joints
  • sensitivity to light
  • itchy eyes, ears, lips, throat and roof of mouth

Identifying the causes

Allergies/sensitivities are becoming much more common because of our modern way of living. Probably at least half of all patients visiting their general practitioners have symptoms wholly or partly attributable to allergy and/or their environment. The majority of these can be made better by using our low-dose immunotherapy (LDI) management technique.

Allergy/sensitivity occurs either when the total load of allergens is too high and overwhelms the abilities of the immune system to cope, or when one particular provocant to which the body is particularly susceptible is at a dangerous level for that person. (This is further explained in the section Understanding the Load Phenomenon). There is enormous individual variation in susceptibility to an allergen. One level of a substance that produces no symptoms in one person may make another, more susceptible, person very ill.

Common food allergens include:

  • milk & milk products, including cheese
  • nuts
  • wheat & wheat products
  • food additives
  • cocoa/chocolate
  • tea
  • coffee
  • onions
  • yeast
  • tap water
  • eggs
  • citrus fruit
  • tomatoes
  • alcohol
  • sugar
  • seafood

Treatment of allergy/sensitivity and environmental illness

We employ only fully qualified doctors and nurses to ensure that the best treatments are given and use a holistic approach to treatment, avoiding drug therapy programmes where possible.

The treatment of allergy, intolerance and sensitivity using the technique of low-dose immunotherapy (LDI) is one of Breakspear Medical’s areas of expertise. The technique is entirely safe in our experienced hands, and employs intradermal skin tests and regular LDI treatment. LDI helps people with allergy/sensitivity and many environmental illnesses by reducing the burden on the immune system.

The treatment of environmental illness is about listening and hearing, looking and seeing, and treating the patient as a whole person…. It is a relatively new concept of medicine. I prefer to think of it as being at the spearhead rather than on the fringes. Without it I would not be doing all that I do today.

~ The Countess of Mar, House of Lords, London

The first step in treating allergy/sensitivity and many environmental illnesses is to book and attend your first appointment.  We are the first to admit that there are many forms to complete prior to your arrival; the information you provide will help your doctor get a full picture of your state of health and lifestyle.  Your doctor will ask questions and, of course, answer any questions that you have, as well as completing a physical examination.  Your diet, living and working environment, and life experiences will be carefully examined to create recommendations which can provide you with a better life.

If you have food allergies or sensitivities, you’ll know that ensuring you consistently eat healthy balanced meals is very difficult. We will provide dietary and nutritional supplementation recommendations formulated on your individual needs in addition to our allergy/sensitivity desensitisation programme.

After your initial consultation, you will be given an estimate, which outlines your treatment plan and costs.  Your Patient Liaison Officer will answer all your questions and help you decide how and when to start your treatment programme. If you proceed with LDI, when you return to the clinic for allergy/sensitivity testing,  specially trained nurses will  offer additional advice on which substances to test and begin testing, in light of the doctor’s recommendations , overall treatment plan and your Nutritional Therapist’s recommendations.

The time required for allergy/sensitivity testing depends on the number of items tested and how sensitive you are. Usually the broader the range of allergies/sensitivities covered, the better the results. Patients will require varying amounts of allergy/sensitivity testing time, as the programme provides individualised therapy.  During your first testing session, it will take longer than any subsequent visit, with many patients having 10 or more testing sessions, over two weeks.  When you return for re-testing, the process is much faster and may only require one to two sessions.

We strive to help our patients build stronger immune systems, which will help them gain control of their allergies and sensitivities.

It is Breakspear Medical’s strict policy not to conduct any clinical procedures without the supervision of an appropriate physician. All members of Breakspear Medical’s medical team are trained as first responders in the unlikely event of a medical emergency. The clinic has all required emergency equipment and all clinical team members receive annual refresher training for essential emergency procedures including re-certification in CPR and use of the clinic’s Automatic External Defibrillator.

Costs

Breakspear Medical treats each patient individually, which means that there is no standard allergy/sensitivity or environmental illness treatment programme at a set price. After your first appointment, you will be given a detailed estimate, with your recommended treatment programme in detail with all the costs, which will be explained to you by your Patient Liaison Officer. On the day of your appointment or anytime afterward, if you have any specific questions regarding prices, estimates and treatment programmes, please contact a Patient Liaison Officer, by phone 01442 261 333 or email: liaison@breakspearmedical.com

FAQs

How long does it take to complete the allergy/sensitivity testing?

As a new patient, only 1 item can be tested at a time.  It is expected that on average you may tests 6-8 items per day.  Depending on your reactions, you might need 3-4 days to test 25 items.

Many new patients choose to test for approximately 2 weeks during their first testing session.  Future testing, which is referred to as “re-testing”, takes much less time and may only take 1-2 sessions.

Can I bring my carer with me while doing allergy testing?

Yes, of course.  If you cannot care for yourself, please make arrangements for someone to accompany you and ensure that they adhere to our strict scent-free policy, too.

We will try our best to make partners and carers feel welcome and involve them in your care as much as you wish.

We have nurses on site but they are employed to perform other duties and may not be available when you need assistance and we would like you to be as comfortable as possible.

 

What happens once I have completed my allergy/sensitivity testing?

After you finish testing, the items you have tested will be placed in an antigen vaccine for you to take on a daily basis.  Your testing nurse will give you full support and training on how to store and administer these vaccines.

You will also be given our contact details should you need to speak to a nurse after you have left.  The nurses are available Monday to Saturday between 09.00 hrs and 17.00 hrs.  Your testing nurse should also telephone you after about 2 weeks to check progress.

You will be asked to make a booking to return for re-testing in 3 months’ time because as we expect your condition to improve the antigen vaccine will need re-testing.  Often re-testing sessions test 4 items at a time so you may only need to book 1-2 sessions for re-testing.

How much would it cost to have food allergy testing?

After your first appointment with your Breakspear Medical doctor, you will be provided with an estimate, which will tell you all the tests and treatment your doctor recommends.

If you have any questions about the estimate or treatment programme, please contact your Patient Liaison Officer +44(0)1442 261 333 Ext 293.

Do you do allergy/sensitivity testing for children?

Yes.  The first step is to book an appointment for an initial consultation and you will then be provided with your child’s doctor’s recommendations for allergy/sensitivity testing and treatment.  There are various options and only after evaluating your child’s medical history and a physical examination will the doctor be able to recommend the best method of addressing the child’s allergy/sensitivity.

To book an appointment, please contact Reception +44(0)1442 261 333 Option 1.