It’s one of those things, like SO many others, that I’ve thought I must enquire about but alas, never got around to it. ‘It’s on my list’ I’d regularly say to friends who are often in the same boat and have multiple ‘things’ they’d like to sort but don’t take the time or they prioritise kids stuff over themselves. It’s a ‘mummy’ thing, isn’t it? We look after everyone else in the family and leave ourselves till last.
I go through phases of unexplained headaches (three children won’t exactly ease that one!!) but they can quickly upgrade to migraine in recent years which can be very debilitating. I’ll stop before you think I’m a complete write-off! I suppose I’m just sharing the aspects that made me wonder if something, in particular, was a trigger. So, I headed into the Allergy Clinic in Blackrock clinic to find out what was involved and was absolutely intrigued by their process. Sidenote – one of the owners is a lady called Sandra Walsh who created the hugely successful ‘Canopi’ sleeves and I had interviewed her several years ago on Ireland AM about her business. A nurse by trade, Sandra’s latest venture is the allergy clinic and Sandra along with nurse Linda explained how it worked.
Firstly, you can self-refer so no referral letter from a GP is required. The skin prick test is where the skin is exposed to suspected allergy-causing substances, everything from pollen, trees, molds to even rabbit or horsehair to foods like kiwi, apples, rice and everything in between. A grid is drawn on your arm (as per picture) and each grid represents an individual allergen from environmental factors to foods.
A 1000th strength dose of allergen is introduced to the system by way of a droplet. A lancet is used to create a small (fairly insignificant) scratch on the surface of your arm and this allows the droplet to penetrate the skin.
What happens then?
You wait. And you watch. And in my case, one arm stays the same and the other shows signs of swelling. I was no expert in analysing my results but I knew we were definitely having ‘chats’ after my twenty-minute incubation period!
In summary, I didn’t have any reaction worth noting on the arm where the food allergens were introduced (see below pic on the right). However, on the other side (left pic below), I had a few angry lumps that needed some explanation. Turns out I have allergies to various molds (hopefully I’m not exposed to those too often!), I also have allergies to mixed grass pollen (that’s the ‘G’ on the grid) which is fairly common and I have a strong allergy to the common house dust-mite (the ‘D’), something I never would have known before this test.
The dust-mite allergy means some lifestyle changes are required with immediate effect.
Here’s my checklist (and it’s a work-in-progress!).
– A daily antihistamine tablet from May to September.
– I’m not allowed to hang clothes over chairs in my bedroom anymore. Eek – guilty!
– No clothing on the floor (eek again)
– Ideally wooden floors in the bedroom (I have carpet!!)
– Regular hoovering
– Regular dusting – at least twice weekly
– No books/magazines/clutter around your bed (guilty again!)
– Wardrobe doors closed at night (about the only thing I already do!)
– Invest in a dust cover over the mattress (on the list!)
There you have it. It’s an interesting experience and the nurses (Sandra and Linda) are so sensitive and caring but take it from me, it’s a very easy process. And I’m a fully grown wuss!
Contact Joyce (she even kept me busy chatting as the bumps appeared!) at the clinic to make an appointment should you wish. The cost is 180 euro and the results are instant, it’s the only way to know for sure if you’re allergic to something.
To quote their tag line, ‘In order to make the best of the outside, you need to know what’s going on on the inside’!
(P.S. In the interest of transparency, this isn’t an ad. I was invited to the clinic and gifted this test).