Millions of people are undergoing pointless allergy tests on the NHS, experts claim.
Roughly 12 per cent of the adult population believe they have a food aversion – when, in reality, only 1 to 2 per cent actually do.
The discovery was made after researchers analysed patient blood tests against a simple questionnaire on symptoms and supposed triggers.
The latter, although only comprising of four questions, offered a 90 per cent accuracy in detection and could subsequently help save the NHS huge sums.
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Currently, thousands of patients demand GP appointments over fashionable food intolerance, which add to the rising NHS cost. But the new research, which was published in the British Journal of General Practice on Tuesday, offers a more cost-effective way of detecting issues.The study was made of 143 people and off-set the data of their finger-prick tests with four core questions.
These included: Do you have, or have you ever had, hayfever? Do any of your parents or siblings have, or have they ever had, hayfever? Do your allergy symptoms vary when you go from place to place (for example, on holiday)? and Is there a specific trigger that always sets off your allergy symptoms?
The authors concluded that, for those who answered no to the four questions, they most had no allergy.
‘Most (87.5%) of those who gave negative responses to all the questions were non-atopic (had negative skin tests),’ the researchers said.
They added that ‘a significant number of people mistakenly believe they have allergies and use both NHS and their own time and resources pursuing unnecessary investigations’.
They also added that the findings may help family GPs work out the risk of allergy, although they said larger studies should be carried out.