World Health Day: Self-Diagnosis of Allergies is Inadequate

Allergies are the most common widespread chronic disease. There are around 25 million people with allergies in Germany alone.

The European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) recommends that patients seek the advice of a doctor to rule out any doubts as to whether symptoms are truly allergy-related, rather than simply relying on their own observations. In a study* involving more than 4,000 participants, 35% claimed to have a food allergy or intolerance. A medical examination was then performed on 800 of the participants, which demonstrated that only 3.7% of them had an allergy.

Therefore, if you have recurring or long-lasting symptoms, ECARF recommends that you consult your family doctor or allergy specialist to confirm whether you have an allergy. Once you have a correct diagnosis, you can be given effective treatment. Allergy-like symptoms must also be taken seriously; however, they may require a different therapy.

A detailed self-test is available from ECARF. It can be accessed online  to prepare for – but not to replace – a doctor’s visit. The test asks you rate a wide range of symptoms related to allergic rhinitis, asthma, atopic dermatitis and food allergies.

* Zuberbier T, Edenharter G, Worm M, Ehlers I, Reimann S, Hantke T, Roehr CC, Bergmann KE, Niggemann B. (2004): Prevalence of adverse reactions to food in Germany – a population study. In: Allergy. 59(3):338-345.