Allergies

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Side Health™ is here to provide you with information on its definition, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.

Allergies develops when your body mistakes something that is harmless as foreign and creates an antibody immune response. This immune response activates chemicals such as histamine to be released which can cause numerous symptoms. For some patients this response is mild, and for others it can be very severe and lead to decreased quality of life and/or serious allergic reactions.

Asthma

About Allergies

Common environmental allergens may include triggers such as animal dander, mold, dust mite, and pollen. For patients with seasonal allergies, their symptoms often occur when there is pollen in the air during the spring and fall months. For those with perennial allergies, symptoms occur in reaction to allergens that are indoors, like dust mites or mold. These symptoms generally continue all year, but might be greater in the winter if you spend more time indoors.

In addition to environmental allergens, patients may also develop allergy to latex, foods, medication, or insect bites.

Symptoms

Allergy symptoms can affect the nose, eyes, ears, throat, skin, lungs, or the lining of the stomach and can be dependent on which substance triggers your allergies. Common symptoms of allergies may include:

\

Eyes, Ears, Nose symptoms

– Itchy, watery eyes
– Stuffy nose (congestion) or runny nose
– Sneezing
– Tingling/Itchiness in your mouth or throat
– Lip/tongue swelling

\

Skin symptoms

– Hives
– Itchy skin
– Skin redness or swelling

\

Lung symptoms

– Difficulty breathing
– Chest tightness
– Worsening asthma symptoms such as coughing or wheezing

\

Stomach symptoms

– Abdominal cramps
– Chest tightness
– Nausea/Vomiting or diarrhea

Anaphylaxis

Some allergic reactions are severe and can be fatal if not treated immediately. These reactions are known as anaphylaxis and require emergency services to treat.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may start with mild symptoms like runny nose or a rash and then progress rapidly to more serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, tightness of the throat, nausea/vomiting, hives, swelling, dizziness, fainting, and in some patients a “feeling of impending doom.”

If you or someone you see is exhibiting symptoms of anaphylaxis, it is important to use an epinephrine auto-injector immediately and call 911.

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of allergies can be made through blood testing or skin testing.

Blood tests can be used to check for antibodies that are circulating against specific allergens in the body, including food or environmental allergens.

Allergy testing can also be completed through skin prick testing, intradermal skin testing, and patch testing.

health

Treatment

Treatment for allergies comes in many forms, depending on symptoms and severity.

Lifestyle Measures

Once it is determined that you have an allergy to something, it is important to take measures to try to avoid or limit contact with your allergens.

For example, if you are allergic to pollen you can:

Z

Shower before going to bed to remove any pollen from your skin or hair

Z

Use a HEPA filter and use air conditioning in the house versus open windows.

Z

Wear a mask if you plan to do any yardwork or need to be outside.

Z

Stay indoors on high pollen count days or days where it is dry and windy.

Your provider will discuss specific steps for you to take to help prevent allergic reactions and control your allergies.

Medication

Allergy medications treat symptoms associated with allergies, but do not cure or take away your allergies. They are often most effective when started prior to the time of year your allergies usually flare.

Some examples of classes of medications to treat allergies include:

Z

Antihistamines work to reduce levels of histamine circulating in your body that contribute towards allergic symptoms.

Z

Nasal steroids help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the nasal passageways.

Z

Nasal saline sprays can also be helpful in treating nasal congestion by thinning and loosening mucus.

Z

Decongestants, either in a pill or nasal spray form, can help with allergic symptoms and congestion. However, nasal decongestant sprays should only be used for a short period of time as instructed by your provider.

terrebonne-general-health-system

Immunotherapy

Unlike medication for your allergies, immunotherapy is able to treat the root cause of your allergies.

Immunotherapy comes in two forms:

W
Subcutaneous immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) is a way to introduce a small amount of what you are allergic to into your system, allowing you to become more tolerant of allergens.
W
Sublingual immunotherapy is a newer form of immunotherapy that involves placing drops or tablets under your tongue.
W
Schedule a virtual consultation with one of our providers for further evaluation of your allergy symptoms today!