Sometimes I speak to friends and realise I'm incredibly lucky. My original symptoms were clear enough to get me referred to a specialist. I had a miserable nine months, doped up with anti-histamines and forever hungry. But I got a diagnosis and a prescription that work most of the time.
I've spoken to people who live with asthma and allergy together - taking multiple anti-histamines and montelukast with little effect because they cannot identify the allergy. In these circumstances you may be managed by, say, a chest physician and a dermatologist, if you're lucky. Or else just a GP. It's not just the disease - living with the pills is dreadful too.
On the specialist web-sites, salicylate hypersensitivy - my problem - is usually mentioned as a possibility. But GPs, caterers, the wider world knows little about it.
So I'm happy to urge support for this petition that's been posted on the website of 10 Downing Street, the British prime minister. So far fewer than 200 people have signed - it needs more!
It reads: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to take action to improve NHS allergy services and the inadequate care received by millions of patients living with allergic disease; and call for action to implement the recommendations of independent national reviews including the House of Commons Health Select Committee, that more allergy consultant and trainee posts be created, priority be given to commissioning of allergy services and for improved knowledge of allergy in primary care. "
Mandy East of National Allergy Strategy Group writes: "Around a third of the population have a condition where allergy may be involved and about 7 million have allergy severe enough to require specialist care. This creates a large burden for the patient and the NHS. There is a lack of expertise in allergy right across the NHS.Most doctors just don’t know, or know little, about allergy; there is a lack of expertise in hospitals and a lack of knowledge or understanding of allergy in primary care. This means that very large numbers of patients are being seen by a doctor who has little understanding of their disease; and things are made worst by there being a small number of full specialists in allergy."