Frequently Asked Questions

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Who are the BSACI

The British Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) is the national professional and academic organisation representing allergists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and physicians with a special interest in allergy. To find out more information click here

What is the benefit of being a member of the BSACI?

The BSACI provides support to clinicians and scientists involved in Allergy in the UK and overseas. Our aim is to provide high-quality NHS based allergy service to patients with allergic disease and other disorders of the immune system.

Members receive access to the members’ area of the BSACI website. From here members can access the online journal, download patient information leaflets onto your Trust headed paper, view guidelines (including e-Guidelines) and the latest edition of Allergy Update – the official newsletter of the BSACI and much more.

To find out more about becoming a member of the Society click here or contact us on 0207 501 3910, or info@bsaci.org.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is an abnormally high sensitivity to a certain substance, such as dust, pollens, foods, or drugs. Allergy is derived from the Greek allos, meaning other, and ergon which means work. If a person has an allergic reaction to something, what they are really experiencing is an altered or exaggerated reaction. Thus, the allergy patient lives in an altered state of hypersensitivity.

What are the allergic symptoms?

An allergic reaction typically triggers symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin. For some people, allergies can also trigger symptoms of asthma. In the most serious cases, a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur.

A number of different allergens are responsible for allergic reactions. The most common include:
• Pollen
• Dust
• Food
• Insect stings
• Animal dander
• Mould
• Medications
• Latex

How are allergies diagnosed?

If you or your child has allergy symptoms, an allergist/immunologist or a GP with special training in allergy may help with a diagnosis. An allergist has advanced training and experience to properly diagnose your condition and prescribe an allergy treatment and management plan to help you feel better and live better.

How are allergies treated?

Allergy treatments involve 3 fundamental principles.

First, avoidance of the known irritant or allergen responsible for inducing the state of hypersensitivity. Second, when avoidance of a specific allergen source such as house dust mite or certain pollens is impossible or not sufficient enough to control symptoms, then drug therapy is used. Finally, when avoidance and drug therapy fail to adequately control symptoms, specific allergen immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots) are used to help prevent the progression of the allergic disease.

Allergen immunotherapy is the only treatment available today that can actually modify the natural history of an allergic disease. It is most important to remember that all allergic diseases, such as hay fever and asthma, are chronic long-standing diseases which require long-term management.

What is allergy season?

A significant number of people only experience seasonal nasal, eye and throat symptoms (e.g. hay fever) during a specific time of year when certain allergens are in the air outdoors. These are during the spring when plants bloom and tree pollen counts soar, the summer during which grass and weed pollen cause allergies and autumn is the time for ragweed and certain mould allergies. Perennial allergies, or year-round allergies, are typically caused by indoor allergies to dust mites, mould, cockroaches, and pet dander.

Who is an allergist/immunologist?

An allergist/immunologist is a physician certified in allergy and clinical immunology having been accredited through a training program.

The allergist/immunologist is uniquely trained in:
• Allergy testing
• History – allergy test correlation
• Asthma care including bronchial provocation studies
• Inhalant immunotherapy
• Immunomodulator therapy (e.g. anti-IgE)
• Venom immunotherapy
• Food and drug challenges
• Drug desensitization
• Education (disease, medications, monitoring)
• Management of chronic or recurrent conditions where allergy is not always identified: rhinosinusitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, cough, urticaria/angioedema, eczema, anaphylaxis.

How can i pay for my BSACI membership?

BSACI Membership is paid for when filling out the online application form. Applicants and existing members can pay for membership using all major credit and debit cards using our secure online portal. You are also able to set up a direct debit with the society through our payments provider GoCardless.

The BSACI is no longer accepting cheque payments for membership.

If you are unable to pay using the online systems then please call the BSACI office and the membership officer will be more than happy to assist you.

How common are allergic problems?

Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide. Allergy symptoms range from making you miserable to putting you at risk for life-threatening reactions.

An allergic reaction begins in the immune system. Our immune system protects us from invading organisms that can cause illness. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader. This foreign substance, usually a small protein, is called an allergen. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.

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