Diagnosis of Allergy
One-stop Investigation with State-of-the-Art Facilities
Dr. Lee obtains clues leading to any possible allergic cause(s) of a patient's symptoms from a detailed medical history, specific investigations including food diaries, blood tests, skin tests, lung function tests, elimination diets. Challenge tests are conducted as appropriate to either confirm the causes of allergy, or to definitively ascertain that the problem is not allergy at all. Dr Lee works in close collaboration with a full time dietitian with a special interest in management of food allergies and intolerance.
Allergy Kitchen for Food Challenge
Oral food challenges are the gold-standard for diagnosis of food allergy and intolerances. A food challenge involves eating incremental amounts of the suspected food, often under supervision to see whether there is any reaction, thereby pinpointing the culprit.
The dedicated Allergy Kitchen for investigation of food allergy is rarely available in other Allergy Centres around the world. Foods are prepared separately without seasonings and in different ways for food challenge tests. This allows pinpointing of the exact allergen and/or preparation method which gives rise to the allergic reaction. The dedicated kitchen is crucial to the accuracy of food challenge tests by preventing cross-contamination between different food substances and cooking utensils.
Food challenges or skin prick tests (SPT) are performed in a specially designed negative pressure room to ensure that no allergen enters the general clinic area from the challenge room to affect other patients.
Treatment for Allergy
Allergy is Curable, and in the future, Preventable
The majority of treatment approaches only treat the symptoms of allergic diseases. However, 62% of patients receiving optimal standard symptomatic treatment still experience poor symptomatic control. If the cause(s) can be identified and avoided cure is possible. Currently, apart from symptomatic treatment, allergen avoidance and desensitization are the two major strategies for allergy treatment.
It means minimizing or refraining from contact with allergens or allergen-containing substances in one's daily life. In cases of food allergy or intolerance, the Centre's dietitian will assess one's nutritional needs and prescribe a diet to meet one's daily requirements while avoiding the allergens. Asthma can be mitigated if the triggering allergens are identified and avoided, reducing reliance on medication.
Immunotherapy / Desensitization
Avoidance, while essential, is not the only approach. Immunotherapy / desensitization may be adopted to effect substantial improvement in allergic symptoms. It involves the administration of increasing doses of the provoking allergen either by the sublingual (oral vaccines) or subcutaneous route (subcutaneous injections) to desensitise the patient. It is a long-established treatment which is used widely all over the world (but so far not in Hong Kong) with proven benefits.