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Book review may be available in other languages

WAO Medical Book Review

"Allergy. Your questions answered"
All your allergies covered
Helen E Smith, Anthony J Frew. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2003 (220 pp, $62.70).

Reviewed by:
Constance H Katelaris
Associate Professor
Department of Clinical Immunology and Allergy
Westmead Hospital, NSW

WAO gratefully acknowledges the Medical Journal of Australia for permission to reprint this book review

This is a compact paperback that will be of interest to primary care physicians, nurses and patients. Despite its size, it covers a broad range of allergic disorders and related topics.

The authors are suitably qualified to present a resource such as this. Helen Smith is a reader in primary care medicine at the University of Southampton, and Anthony Frew is an eminent professor of allergy and respiratory medicine in the same institution.

The question-and-answer format used throughout the book ensures that it provides a succinct, authoritative opinion on all aspects of allergic disease. Its layout ensures ready access to any topic, with an excellent list of chapter and topic headings as well as an easy-to-use index. There is a list of questions, which are numbered for easy reference. Within each chapter there are highlighted points, clear diagrams and a list of frequently asked patient questions at the end of each section.

The material covered in this volume is relevant and up-to-date, and the authors clearly differentiate between factual material and proven therapies, on the one hand, and unproven techniques and therapies on the other. The chapter dealing with unproven diagnostic techniques and therapies is particularly well presented. The authors present a straightforward, honest appraisal of the deficiencies of many of the so-called alternative techniques used by non-medical practitioners in the pursuit of the patient with allergic disease.

As with most books written in the Northern Hemisphere, sections on seasonal allergy are of limited use to an Australian audience because of the differences in our pollen seasons. The appendix of useful organisations with website addresses is also of limited use because of the predominantly local nature of this information, although two Australian organisations do rate a mention. There are a number of other international organisations listed in this section.

At first glance the suggested retail price of almost $63 appears to be expensive for such a small paperback edition. In fact, this is a beautifully presented and easily accessible textbook on allergic disease, and it will have appeal both as an interesting read and as a reference book for those who desire a working knowledge of the subject.