Can the NHS cope with allergy and dermatology needs?

The number of people with allergies is rising. This isn’t including the number of people with eczema and psoriasis, many of whom may be exacerbating their condition with certain foods. The internet is here to help but the NHS are struggling under the sheer weight of people needing help.

There is a lot we can do to help ourselves, which is where the internet and blogs like this come into their own. We just have to keep questioning, keep searching, keep hoping and keep smiling – I am convinced the answer is out there somewhere…

My own experiences

I have seen this in my own local NHS services. It seems that my doctor and my local allergy clinic have decided I can no longer be helped. They are too busy or perhaps they can do no more for me. So once you’ve had patch tests and skin prick tests and a few sessions with a dietician that’s your lot. Off you go. On yer bike.

Despite the fact that I can rarely eat out and have to eat only food I cook myself except when meals out are planned with military precision I still have allergic reactions every month and sometimes more often than this due to slip-ups and cross contamination. I know this is not normal for most but it’s normal for me.

If I’m honest I don’t want to see them any more either. At times when I feel positive and in control that’s fine. But at other times I get to my wits end, exhausted and ground down from trying to cope and control a body and skin that seem to be in self destruct. I don’t want to resort to steroids but I have to, quite often. When I phone, in tears, at another rock bottom moment, not wanting this cycle to continue I realise there isn’t help at the end of the line. My doctor can’t help. He doesn’t have the answers. Noone has the answers.

Recently, my doctor said, “What’s the point of going any more, what else can they do?” Well it seems he’s right but hey, they’re the specialists aren’t they? I’m beginning to wonder whether they are right and I should forget about medical advice from now on.

The local allergy clinic in Amersham wrote to me and said, “I am sorry to inform you that due to the volume of people being referred into the system, in conjunction with some internal vacancies, it is not possible to see all patients referred to our allergy service. In light of this, your referral has been sent back to your GP who has been made aware of the current status of the service.

With your best interests in mind, and to try to ensure you are seen as quickly as possible, we have advised your GP of other providers of allergy services in the region who are currently able to care for your allergy needs.”

I rang them and they said I’ve been discharged so could no longer make appointments.

This is despite the dietician I was referred to suggesting I make another appointment to visit to discuss reintroducing foods into my diet and possible other foods that are causing problems. I mentioned that the dietician had suggested I make the appointment when I rang but that didn’t seem to be relevant at all.

So, my doctor referred me to Oxford, who said… “Many thanks for your letter dated 18th June. If your referral is predominantly aimed at reviewing her eczema, I think she should be best seen at Amersham Hospital as obviously she is well known where as I have no record of her being seen here at the department of dermatology in Oxford. If there are concerns with regards to allergies and review of these then potentially this could be undertaken here.”

This month alone I have fought valiantly against five albeit minor allergic reactions. None needed the epipen or a hospital visit but they all result in painful skin rashes on my face, sleepless nights, and more confusion, but that’s five attacks in one month and it’s not over yet!

This month we’ve had:

  • Possible overdoing it with eggs. I can eat them now but need to be aware not to eat them too often
  • Suspected lactic acid which was supposedly dairy free
  • Suspected tomato poisoning through cross contamination (my fault if it was that)
  • Two unknown incidents. One possible to basil though I’ve eaten it before without a problem and one totally random with no obvious cause.

I cope with these. Take them in my stride. No need to phone the doctor or even tell them. What would they do? I use steroids if it’s really bad and if it’s mild (still horrid) I use tea tree and aloe vera and other calming natural balms. Sometimes all I can use is Epaderm and Diprobase, my saviour oitments. Some nights are really bad with livid oozing hives, waking in an itchy sweat and having to get up and cool myself down, cold shower, soothe skin, anti histamines and then try to sleep again. Hoping I have not scratched too much and done untold damage.

Some mornings I get off relatively rash free after an attack and feel so grateful when this happens, but other nights I don’t wakeup quick enough and it’s a bad few days recovering. Some attacks are lighter than others.

So, what’s the answer?

Maybe my doctor is right and I should just battle on, but is this it? Is this just my life and I should settle for it? It seems Oxford would see me about my allergies, but would they just be thinking patch test, skin prick test, on yer bike?

I know that some people are referred for immunotherapy, so far only for hayfever and grass allergy in this country but in different counties they can have their allergy shots for other allergies though I don’t think for food. However if I could just dampen down the hay fever and the dust allergy, perhaps I wouldn’t be so reactive to other stuff?

Even if immunotherapy only treated one allergen, surely life would get so much easier, and potentially the body may cease to become so allergic. Who knows. Perhaps this is just clutching at straws and wishful thinking.

What is the answer? I’m convinced the immune system is critally linked and that anything that can threaten that will make the symptoms worse. So I am now on operation boost immunity! and that means drive out stress completely. No good worrying about getting help where it is not forth coming.

Exercise is key here too and eating healthy, local, organic food. I know that everything is better when I’m doing plenty of exercise, which I haven’t been lately. It’s important to not get into the loop of allergies make you feel rubbish, so you don’t go out and do exercise, so you feel rubbish, so the allergies are still rubbish, so the skin is still crap, so you don’t do exercise.

Get out there. Start small, just a walk, fresh air and build. It works for me anyway. Cut out the processed foods and things the body struggles to process. Sadly alcohol and coffee aren’t great for the kidneys. That doesn’t mean you should cut them out completely but see them as a treat and give your body a break.

What things do you do that help you stay in control of your allergies, eczema, asthma? Have you stopped going to the doctors and relying on the NHS? Are you also, going it alone?

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.

Comments

  1. Ruth – hi – and sorry – crap, innit?…… But – I am sure I have said ‘worms’ to you before……. And I think that understandably – and like many people – you said – WHAAAAT – yuck!!! But maybe you should just consider……. Just look what they have done for our John Scott…. And just have a read of the 200 odd success stories that he recently posted on the site – http://www.foodsmatter.com/natural_medicine_comp_therapies/helminthic_therapy/index_worms.html

    You appear to have such a severely de-reguated immune system that maybe?……

    • I keep thinking about these worms Michelle. I’m reading up about them. Not ready for them yet but might get in touch with John to see how he got on. I know he was ten times worse than me but I might be heading the way he did if I don’t sort myself out soon.

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