Monday, 14 November 2011

Dumbing down

The Independent newspaper seems to be turning into the Daily Mail, if this article is anything to go by. If this study were to be believed one in six people is allergic to something in their own homes. What a load of cock. The figures were derived from a poll of people canvassed by the charity “Allergy UK” so is really nothing more than a collection of anecdotes.

As anyone involved in healthcare knows the general public have very poor understanding of what an allergy is. If you closely question people who claim to have an allergy a considerable proportion clearly have no such thing. Firstly there are those who claim to be allergic to substances which are actually found normally in the body, and which are often essential. I have had a patient tell me he was allergic to water, which is obviously absurd. Monosodium glutamate is another which might sound feasible but for the fact that glutamate is an amino acid.

Then there are the ones who claim allergy to drugs when what they have had is a simple side effect, Allergic to Morphine doc, (It makes them feel sick). Antibiotics, (They give me thrush) and so on.

And then there are the ones who will blame any malady of any description on “chemicals” and call it an allergy. And even those who claim allergy to substances which are universally toxic.

I don’t know if my experience is shared but I find that older patients are far less likely to report allergies than younger ones, and if they do it is far more likely to be the real thing.

This survey was a pointless waste of time. The results it vomits up are absurd and of no value whatsoever. What were the Independent thinking when they published this drivel.


  1. Have to agree with you Doc. My older patients have far fewer allergies than younger ones. When someone tells me they are allergic to something I, like you, find it is invariably a reaction.

    I also think I will slap the next person who tells me they are allergic to work, the wife, pain, hospitals etc. It is not funny and it is not original.

  2. Have to disagree, folks. I have several awkward customers who are almost allergic to everything or who insist on being sent for testing, most of whom are age 65+. I don't really see age being an issue on this one.

  3. Though older patients often seem to have these nebulous Penicillin allergies where they don't know anything about what was supposed to have happened when they took it.

  4. 'Allergy to penicillin' drove me mad at work - people trotted it out so glibly, and when questioned it was usually what sounded like a reaction, but they never wanted to let go of the term 'allergy' which sounds a bit 'special', I guess. Yet the consequences were highly irritating when it came to dosing them up prior to procedures or treating their pacemaker infections. Having to dig out the erythromycin/vancomycin and take blood all the time for levels.

    My grandmother was the oldest person I ever came across claiming an allergy to penicillin though it just made her feel 'a bit sick', she was given it 'sometime during the 1940s' and never had it since.