What are Allergies?
Individuals who suffer from allergies understand how unbearable the symptoms can be. However, many people may not understand why these symptoms occur. It all starts with an allergen that enters the body, which causes the immune system to fight back by producing histamine. Histamine is a natural response to allergens that creates many of the commonly-known symptoms associated with allergies. Thus, antihistamine drugs are a common treatment for allergy symptoms.
What are the Symptoms?
Allergies have many symptoms, with the most common including sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, scratchy throat, nasal congestion, and runny nose. It can also include swelling in certain areas or difficulty breathing. These reactions can range from mild to severe, depending on the patient, so it’s important to have yourself tested by an ENT specialist who can recommend treatment.
What Types of Allergies Exist?
There are five main types of allergies: respiratory allergy, skin-related allergy, food allergy, allergy to stinging insects, and allergies to medications such as penicillin. Most patients commonly respond to respiratory allergens, which include pollens, dust mites, molds, and animal dander.
Many people also report a history of allergic reaction to penicillin. This affects the ability of doctors to treat them with penicillin and associated other antibiotics. However, studies show that 9 out of 10 people who report a penicillin allergy are not actually allergic. We include testing for penicillin allergy as part of our allergy testing and treatment process to ensure you get accurate results that benefit your overall health.
How Does Allergy Testing Work?
Testing is one important step in determining a patient’s individual allergens and the severity of each reaction. From this baseline, our ENT specialists can develop an effective treatment plan. Allergy testing generally comes in two forms— skin testing and blood testing. During skin testing, different allergens are meticulously exposed to the skin in order to monitor the reaction. Blood testing requires a blood sample that can be examined in a lab. Each type has its benefits, and your ENT specialist can help you select the right one for you.
What Types of Allergy Treatments Exist?
The most effective way to treat allergy symptoms is to try and avoid exposure to the allergen, but this isn’t always realistic. Several medications can alleviate symptoms, such as antihistamines or nasal steroid sprays. For more severe cases, allergy shots (which we can administer at our Tuscaloosa office) or allergy drops can alter the body’s natural immune system response by becoming familiar with the allergen gradually. This can reduce or even eliminate symptoms for the long term. Your ENT specialist can determine which treatment is best for your lifestyle and treatment plan.
We understand that allergies aren’t to be taken lightly, but they don’t have to affect your quality of life. At Alabama Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialists, we work diligently to help address your allergy concerns with comprehensive allergy testing and treatment. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.