Allergy Treatment Frequently Asked Questions
What is an allergy?
Allergy is a condition in which the affected person’s immune system reacts to something eaten, touched, inhaled or absorbed through the skin as if it were an “enemy invader.” This reaction leads to symptoms such as sneezing, nasal stuffiness and watery eyes, and can also cause chronic problems such as post nasal drip, head congestion, frequent colds, recurring ear infections, hearing loss, chronic cough and asthma. Allergies affect as many as one in four people in America, and are among the nation’s most common and costly health problems.
What causes symptoms to begin?
Allergies are often inherited and there is no “usual” way that they begin; the onset of symptoms may be sudden or gradual. Often, symptoms develop following an unusual stress to the immune symptom, such as a severe viral infection.
Can I outgrow my allergies?
No. However, many people change their reaction to allergies. For example, a baby may develop colic or recurrent ear infections, but as he or she grows older suffer from different symptoms such as hay fever or asthma.
How can you treat my allergies?
Through our allergy program, we offer comprehensive care for patients who have allergic rhinitis, a term applied to a collection of symptoms, predominantly in the nose, throat and eyes. The initial diagnosis is made by history and physical examination. If further diagnosis is required to treat you effectively, our skin prick testing and intradermal testing identify the substances that trigger an allergic reaction in you. Our in-office CT scanner also makes it easy to evaluate for chronic sinusitis, if indicated. We then establish a regimen of treatment that may include one or all of the following:
The first and most basic treatment step is to eliminate or avoid contact with the identified allergens, if possible. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to remove many allergens completely from your environment and thus allergen avoidance alone may not be effective.
The next step in allergy treatment is the use of medications. These may include nasal corticosteroids, antihistamines, leukotriene inhibitors, mast cell stabilizers, steroids and other products which can effectively relieve allergy symptoms.
For patients seeking long-term relief of allergy systems we offer immunotherapy. This treatment alters the body’s overactive response by carefully challenging your immune system through regular injections of the actual allergens to which you are sensitive. Over time it is possible to alter your excessive response to environmental allergens, improve your symptoms and decrease the need for medications and allergen avoidance.
Patients with chronic sinusitis and/or anatomical abnormalities may also be evaluated for surgical intervention. In special cases such as nasal polyposis, we use image-guided Stealth technology during surgery.