An allergy occurs when your immune system produces antibodies in response to a substance or particle it views as harmful. Allergy symptoms can be something you inherit at birth, can develop gradually overtime or can present themselves suddenly. The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to life-threatening. Allergies can affect everything from your skin to your airways to your digestive system.
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Constant sneezing
- Itching sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat
- Reduced ability to smell or taste
- Frequent ear infections and sinus infections
- Frequent, unexplained nosebleeds
- Experiencing cold-like symptoms for more than 10 days
- Constantly feeling fatigued
- Symptoms that recur at the same time every year
- Hives or rashes
- Swelling of throat, tongue, lips or face
- Mount tingling
- Trouble breathing
- Chest or abdominal pain
- Dizziness or fainting
- Hives or rash
- Swelling at sting/bite
- Shortness of breath
- Persistent Itching
- Dry, cracked patches
- Clear fluid oozing
If left untreated, allergies may cause complications such as chronic cough, head congestion, recurring infection in the ears and sinus, hearing loss, and may even lead to asthma.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. The body goes into shock - blood pressure drops, airways narrow making breathing difficult, sudden weakness and/or unconsciousness. To treat anaphylaxis, an injection of epinephrine is required followed by a trip to the emergency room. *If you, or someone around you, are experiencing anaphylaxis, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room.*
Your doctor will also want to perform a physical examination that evaluates the head and neck for signs of allergies. He/she will also be looking for alternative explanations for your symptoms in addition to conditions that may interfere with treatment, such as a deviated septum.
The only way to firmly diagnose an allergy is to perform an allergy test. The most common allergy testing method is a skin test, because it is quick and reliable. During a skin test, your doctor will expose your skin to possible allergens and track how your body responds. There are three types of skin tests: skin prick test, intradermal test, and patch test. In some cases, a blood test may be preferable to confirm an allergy diagnosis. Talk to your doctor regarding specific instructions before conducting allergy testing.
- Over-the-counter antihistamines such as oral tablets and nasal sprays
- Topical creams/gels
If avoidance of the allergen or allergy medications do not ease symptoms, your Otolaryngic Allergist may recommend a treatment option called immunotherapy. The practice of immunotherapy to treat allergies attempts to alter the body’s response to an identified allergen through small, regular doses of the allergen. Doses are given either through injection or, in some cases, by placing the allergen under the tongue. Over time, the body may change the way it responds to these allergens, alleviating symptoms and reducing the need for medication. Immunotherapy is the only method of treatment which has potential to alter the underlying disease - all other methods seek to reduce or eliminate symptoms.