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What happens during an allergy clinic appointment?

Overview of allergy clinics

During the pandemic we have been offering more telephone clinics and these have proved popular with some people. 

You can usually choose how you prefer your clinic appointment, face to face appointments are currently, however, limited in number and you may have to wait a little longer for an appointment.

It is important that blood tests are done at County Hospital in Stafford or one of the other UHNM phlebotomy sites.  Blood tests carried out elsewhere are not available to the allergy team, and the blood forms used by UHNM are not always correctly interpreted by other laboratories, which means you may have to have the test repeated.

Telephone appointments

Telephone appointments can work really well for allergy as the diagnosis depends largely on what you tell us about your symptoms.  However please check the following points to make sure you get the most from your appointment:

  • we have the correct phone number
  • your phone is working and has reception
  • your phone accepts calls from unidentified numbers
  • you are in a quiet place, where you can talk privately
  • for young adults we need you to be on the call.  You are welcome to include your parent or guardian on speaker phone

We will often try and call back if we do not initially get a response.  However this is not always possible as we have a timeslot for each patient in the clinic.  We do not routinely give people another appointment if they miss a call.

If you are unable to attend your appointment, please call the number on your appointment letter or the appointments office: 01782 676676.

Face to face appointments

Face to face appointments are useful, especially if you have a rash or symptom that is best appreciated in person.  As much as we are all used to telephones, many conversations just work better when you are there in person.

For information about car parking, visit our 'getting here'Getting here section.  Allow plenty of time for finding a space at busy times and sufficient change for parking.

When you arrive at main reception, you will be directed to the outpatients department.  Once you have checked in, a member of the team will call you for your appointment.  In the unusual circumstance that you have not been called and it is more than 30 minutes after your appointment time, do let the receptionist know.

If you are unable to attend your appointment, please call the number on your appointment letter or the appointments office: 01782 676676.

Arriving for a face to face appointment at Royal Stoke Hospital: Go to Main Building and check in using the check-in machines in the entrance. Make your way to Outpatients 3 on the first floor.

Arriving for a face to face appointment at County Hospital: The outpatients department is on your right after you have walked through the main entrance and then right again off the main corridor on the ground floor.

Arriving for a face to face appointment at Royal Stoke ward 202 day case unit or outpatients:  Go to level 1 of the cancer unit to the reception area.

One of our specialist doctors or nurses will first take the full details of your symptoms and how they have affected you. Background medical questions will help us to understand other factors that might be involved. From your description of your symptoms and the answers to other questions, the specialist will begin to understand what the causes might be.

In face to face appointments a short medical examination might be necessary, but you will always be offered a chaperone if you would like one.

Please make sure you have an up-to-date list of all your medications.

Sometimes people identify food as a possible cause of their allergic symptoms. Please have the main ingredients or a list of ingredients which are of concern. In particular, testing for fruit and vegetables is best done with fresh, raw ingredients so it is very useful if you can bring these with you for face to face appointments e.g. apple, banana, carrot.  If the possible allergen is a drug, please have the actual box of the drug or the name of the drug. If you wish to discuss this, please contact the allergy nurses on 01782 672504.

Please leave at least 1- 2 hours for a face to face consultation as it may also include testing and management plan. An initial telephone appointment is likely to take about 20 minutes.

Each patient that attends the service will have an individual written management plan contained within a clinical letter posted to them. Each patient and GP receives a copy of the letter.  For prescriptions required quickly we will give you a note for your GP.  This should be dropped off at your local surgery for your GP to provide a prescription.

The best way to make a diagnosis of allergy is from the symptoms and story that you give, but often allergy tests will also be helpful to confirm the diagnosis.  We will test likely allergens; however it is not good practice to screen for all allergens.  Many patients, e.g. those with frequent rash, will not require an allergy test.

There are two types of allergy test used in the allergy clinic –skin prick testing and specific IgE blood test. In most cases both types are valid; occasionally we may recommend one.

Skin-prick test for allergens

Skin prick testing is quick, painless and safe and you get the results within about 20 minutes. Your skin is pricked with a tiny amount of the suspected allergen to see if there is a reaction. If there is, the skin around the prick will very quickly become itchy and red, with a swollen mark called a wheal.

Fruit and vegetables are often best tested using the fresh fruit.  Please bring foods that you may be allergic to for testing.

Importantly skin prick testing will not work if you are taking anti-histamines.  You will need to stop anti-histamine for at least 3 days prior to the test.  If you have a face to fae appointment and you have a frequent rash and cannot manage without anti-histamines then you may continue with your normal treatment.  If you wish to discuss this, please contact the allergy nurses on 01782 672504.

Blood test for allergens

The blood test used to test for allergens is called a specific IgE test. It is used to measure the number of IgE antibodies in your blood that have been produced by your immune system in response to a suspected allergen.  The results of this test should be interpreted by a specialist.

It is important that you attend County Hospital phlebotomy service or one of the UHNM phlebotomy centres with the blood form enclosed in your clinic letter.  You can book an appointment on line at:  Blood tests done elsewhere go to other laboratories and we do not have direct access to the results.  Also, sometimes other laboratories do not interpret the blood form correctly and the test has to be repeated.