The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Children's Allergy Service

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Welcome to the Leeds Children's Hospital Allergy Service

Over the past 30 years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of children suffering from food allergies, hayfever, asthma, and eczema. Allergies can affect a child’s health, growth, development, educational, social and psychological well-being.

Allergies are very common. One in four people in the UK suffers from an allergy at some time in their lives. The numbers are increasing every year and up to half of those affected are children.

Simply put, an allergy is an over-reaction of the immune system to a food or substance in the environment (called allergens) that are harmless to most people. The body reacts to the allergen as though it is a threat, and produces antibodies (called IgE) to “remember” the allergen - similar to how a body fights off a virus. In an allergic reaction, the antibodies recognise the allergen, and trigger the immune system to react. Common allergic disorders include food allergy, hay fever, asthma, and eczema.

Symptoms of an allergy can include lip/face swelling, hives (an itchy nettle sting-type rash), nausea, vomiting, sneezing, wheezing, coughing and anaphylaxis (severe, life-threatening allergic reactions).

The symptoms depend on contact with the allergen. For example, tingling in the mouth and lip swelling can occur after eating peanuts, or itchy eyes and a runny nose can develop after coming into contact with pollen.