In the spotlight: Professor Gideon Lack
For many years, I have been looking after both children and adults with allergy problems. I find joy in caring for patients with allergies because I can immediately make a big difference to the patients’ quality of life. It is one of the few specialties where it is possible to prevent the development of future diseases such as food allergies.
Since I have started providing allergy services at London Medical, my patients have had outstanding experiences. It is a very safe environment, and the staff are very friendly and caring. Many children visit London Medical, and the staff are very good at putting both parents and their children at ease.
With children, I am particularly interested in helping with food and respiratory challenges. Normally, parents will bring their child to see me if they have had their first allergic reaction, and naturally the parents are very concerned about future reactions. Not knowing what is causing the allergy is very worrying for the parent, and so the first step is to find out what is causing the allergy. This is normally done with a skin test which helps identify the particular allergy or allergies. We may then take a blood sample for a more in-depth analysis. Once we know what is causing the problem, we develop a care plan to reduce the child’s risk of allergic reaction.
In some cases, such as for egg or milk, we can run desensitising programmes so that the child no longer reacts. For most parents, just understanding what their child is allergic to, and therefore knowing what precautions to take, helps them to feel more reassured.
In many cases, parents come to see me to help them with their child’s perceived allergy problem only to find out that, in fact, their child no longer has an allergy. It is quite common in young children that they may react to something when very young but then they grow out of it. Unless the parents test their child, they will continue to act as if the child has the allergy, causing them unnecessary anxiety.
I also look after very young babies with allergies. New research has shown that it is now possible to prevent the development of food allergies such as egg and peanut allergies with early introduction of these foods and this can be safely achieved in higher risk babies with eczema as of four months of age. By identifying issues early, we can make life better for the child and much less stressful for the parents.
At this time of year in particular, I see adults and children with grass and pollen allergies, sometimes with acute symptoms. This category of allergy can severely impact people with asthma, so I run desensitising programmes for both children and adults with such allergies. It is very satisfying to be able to treat these patients and offer them a better quality of life.