This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

The docbot will see you now

I think I'm allergic to allergies

  • Print
  • Comments (14)
  • Rate
  • Save

‘I had diarrhoea and vomiting last week, I know it’s a food allergy and I want a blood test.’

After I had manually reduced my TM joints (my jaw had gaped like a yawning hippo in utter disbelief) I set about the monumentally difficult task of re-educating this patient.

It was difficult to know where to begin. Judging by her astonishing ignorance, at about the age of 12, presumably her teachers had given up.

No, that is harsh, but food allergies are like pairs of denim jeans, in that they always seem to be in fashion and everybody wants one.

The language people use when talking about allergies has also changed. Note she didn’t ‘think’ she had an allergy, nor had she come for me to confirm the diagnosis. She had already decided what was wrong with her, and my role was reduced to being the provider of the blood test forms to find what she was allergic to.

I’m not sure when poor old viruses went out of fashion, but nobody wants a common old stomach bug anymore. It has to be something more exotic and only an allergy will fit the bill. Using the trouser analogy, viruses are the bright orange flares of the illness world.

I think in our largely secular society, ‘belief’ in an allergy, for some people, has replaced the faith in the existence of a superior being that many people held in less enlightened times.

It’s also easy to see the appeal of some alternative practitioner sitting you down in their joss stick-fragranced therapy room and spending an hour telling you how they can ‘cure’ your ‘allergy’ with some herbal tablets they just happen to have in stock, to the accompaniment of whale music.

For those without any scientific education, you can see why this is more palatable than a rushed five minutes with a harassed GP telling you your illness is due to a tiny thing called a virus and that there is no treatment for it.

There is one allergy that would bring a smile to my face though - a mass intolerance to blue rosettes and public school educated millionaires in about four years.

Dr David Turner is a GP in west London 

Rate this blog  (3.16 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (14)

  • I think there is a more interesting cultural point here.

    All cultures throughout history seem to develop dietary rules, often with religious connotations.

    Could it be that humans have a psychological need to follow rules around choice of food?; and that our culture's "5 a day" type dietary rules are too vague and permissive to meet that need?

    Perhaps "food allergies" are 21st century Westerners' way of meeting such a need.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How dare you say that belief in a superior being was in "less enlightened times"...
    An ignorant lack of respect for any religious people in the world

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree - I feel you ought to retract the comment about less enlightened times . As a practising Christian I of course could feel it is you who need to be enlightened , but this is hardly the place to demonstrate your intolerance . Please edit and show respect .

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This comment has been removed by the moderator.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @7:09, @9:09 I thought it was perfectly possible to read the phrase "less enlightened times" as ironic.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Well done Dr T.We should be shouting it form the roof tops;ditto re "allergy to wifi" "bubbly character ruined by chronic Lyme disease".
    Not sure where the blue rosette analogy came in. I have worn one every five years for the last twenty, with no ill effects.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • In a free society (which we apparently still are) everybody is free to believe or not believe in whatever they wish.
    Scientific facts though are based on objective,quantifiable, reproducible data.
    Belief in any superior being is based on faith not science and most alternative treatments are also based on faith and are not underpinned with robust scientific data.
    This was all that I was saying.
    This article was not about religion but food allergies.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Me too. I have had serious food allergies since my early teens & the biggest problem has always been not the allergy but persuading ill-informed people that mine is not a fad and I cannot eat "just a little" because it's Christmas!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Great article.

    When I was an FY1 a parent told me her child was allergic to oxygen. I feel your pain.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am allergic to religious nuts

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @5.22pm

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Advanced apologies as my comment is not directly related to the primary focus of the article (which I enjoyed)...but seeing as it's started....

    There is about as much evidence for the Big Bang theory of creation as there is for God as a creator.

    Using standard scientific theory, the probability of millions of particles "randomly" coming together from which the universe as we know it being created, would be so minuscule the hypothesis would be rejected outright. It's nonsense, sorry I mean its "enlightened nonsense."

    Science has proved the universe is finite. Finite entities have a beginning and an end.
    How did something finite create itself?
    However far one wishes to extrapolate time, at some point something came from nothing, how is this possible within the laws of physics as we know them?

    Another old chestnut, religion and science are contradictory I.e you can only accept one or the other.
    There is only one strand on science that religion fails to accept, that is the THEORY of evolutionary biology, which itself is debated upon within the scientific community. Religion does not contradict the entire paradigm of science.
    In fact many great scientists were people of religious belief.

    If and when secularists are able to create something from nothing, I will happily take their evidence. Until then please respect a persons right to believe in a creator, which as aforementioned is an equally if not more likely explanation.

    Kind regards

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @7.47pm:
    very well put. & respectful to boot!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I gave the author five stars even though I did not find the article particularly funny. I did enjoy his final quip at our present 'Bullington boy' masters. Also, it seems to me that the author is neither an 'allergy or God denier', merely a person/clinician exasperated by the tediousness of promoters of those topics?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

  • Print
  • Comments (14)
  • Rate
  • Save