Save your money: Experts reveal the four simple questions to tell if you really have an allergy
Four simple questions could rule out those who mistakenly believe they have an allergy and pursue costly tests, researchers say.
A new study found that asking four questions helps identify those who are not allergic with an accuracy of almost 90pc.
Experts from the University of Edinburgh said "a significant number of people mistakenly believe they have allergies and use both NHS and their own time and resources pursuing unnecessary investigations".
These include skin prick testing and specific blood tests, both of which offer a high level of inaccurate results. People then spend money on treatments and avoid "presumed triggers" when they are "not, in fact, allergic", they said.
In a study of 143 people, published in the 'British Journal of General Practice' (BJGP), skin prick and blood tests were compared with the results of a questionnaire which was aimed at identifying people who had an allergy.
The results meant experts were able to boil down the questionnaire to just four simple questions.
- Do you have, or have you ever had, hayfever?
- Do any of your parents or siblings have, or have they ever had, hayfever?
- Do your allergy symptoms vary when you go from place to place?
- Is there a specific trigger that always sets off your allergy symptoms?
Of those who answered no to all four questions, most had no allergy.
"Most (87.5pc) of those who gave negative responses to all the questions were non-atopic (had negative skin tests)," they said.
The findings may help GPs work out the risk of allergy, although they said larger studies should be carried out.
The researchers said that 10pc to 12pc of the general adult population think they have some type of food allergy or intolerance. Tests show only 1pc to 2pc actually do.
"This represents a fivefold overestimation of food allergy, which is likely to have significant cost and societal implications," they said.