Allergies Can Be Treated and Potentially Cured!
Who can have an allergy?
Allergies can occur in anyone. They can also change as you get older. If you didn’t have allergies when you were a child, you can develop them when you are older. Allergies can cause cough, runny nose, nasal congestion and sinus infections and headaches. They can also make asthma and bronchitis worse. Allergies can be hereditary. So if you have allergies, your kids may also have allergies.
How do you get allergies?
Both hereditary and environmental factors affect allergies. Allergies are your body’s response to allergens. Allergens can include pollens, dust mites, molds, animals, bee venoms, medications such as penicillin and even foods. When you breath or eat in these allergens , your body reacts to them by producing symptoms such as runny nose, itchiness, sneezing, swelling, asthma, and even anaphylaxis. Many people react with only minimal symptoms. But depending on the your genetics and immune system, you can have much more severe reactions.
Why should we test for allergies?
If we can identify what you are allergic to, then we can better target treatment and make it much more effective. Rather than just taking general medications for allergies, if we can test you and find out what you are allergic to, we can tell you how to avoid them, or target medications so that they can be more effective. If you can’t avoid the allergens and symptoms still persist, we can potentially cure allergies by allergy shots or allergy drops. Treating allergies can reduce ear and sinus infections, improve asthma, eczema, and improve bronchitis.
What is allergy testing?
Allergy testing is the first step in determining what you are allergic to. First, you will see the doctor and you will undergo a thorough history and physical examination. If allergy testing is appropriate, you will be given information about allergy testing and what to expect. You will also be given an “Allergy Testing Information Packet”. It consists of instructions about avoidance measures to reduce allergic symptoms, consent form, allergy history form, SNOT-20 questionnaire, Epipen instructions, and medications that you will need to stop prior to testing. You will need to stop antihistamines such as claritin, zyrtec, allegra, benadryl. These can alter the testing results. Most asthma inhalers, Sudafed, and saline sprays do not need to stopped. Beta blocker heart medications, tricyclic antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, and some herbals should be discontinued prior to testing and treatment. You must consult with your cardiologist/primary care doctor prior to discontinuing medications.
Allergy testing can be done on your arm or back. Allergy testing (skin prick testing) is virtually painless and can be done in children and adults. Sometimes, intradermal testing may be needed to confirm allergies. We can test for over 30 allergens and is very accurate. If you are allergic to a particular allergen, the skin response will show a slight swelling and redness (looks like a small mosquito bite). Once you test positive for allergy testing, your doctor will recommend several strategies to help your symptoms such as allergen avoidance, medications, or immunotherapy (allergy shots and allergy drops). Most insurances cover allergy testing. Please contact your insurance company for coverage questions.
- Wear a pollen mask when mowing grass or house cleaning (most drugstores sell them)
- Change the air filters regularly in heating and air conditioning systems, and/or install an air purifier
- Keep windows and doors closed during heavy pollen seasons
- Rid the home of sources of mildew
- Don’t allow dander-producing animals (i.e., cats, dogs, etc.) into the home and bedroom
- Change feather pillows, woolen blankets, and woolen clothing to cotton or synthetic materials
- Enclose mattress, box springs, and pillows in plastic barrier cloth
- Use antihistamines and decongestants as necessary and as tolerated
- Sleep with the head of the bed tilted upward
- Elevating the head of the bed helps relieve nasal congestion
- Observe general good health practices: exercise daily, do not smoke, avoid air pollutants, eat a balanced diet, and supplement diet with vitamins, especially C
- Use a humidifier in the winter
- Be sure to clean the humidifier regularly to avoid mold build-up
- Discuss hay fever and allergy symptoms with a physician when experiencing an allergic reaction