Allergies are abnormal physical reactions you experience when you are exposed to substances (allergens) to which you have developed an allergy. These substances are usually harmless and do not produce symptoms in normal, non-allergic people.
What Allergens should be avoided?
Pollens, food, mold, dust, feathers, and animal dander commonly cause many to suffer allergic reactions.
One of the most significant causes of allergic rhinitis in the United States is ragweed. It
begins pollinating in late August and continues until the first frost. Late springtime pollens come from grasses, i.e., Timothy, Bermuda, and Johnson. Early springtime hay fever is most often caused by pollens of trees such as elm, maple, birch, beech, oak, hickory, and cottonwood. Colorful or fragrant flowering plants rarely cause allergy symptoms because their pollens are too heavy to be airborne.
Certain allergens are present all year long. These include house dust, pet danders, some foods and chemicals. Symptoms from these are frequently worse in the winter when the house is closed up and where there is poor ventilation.
Mold spores can also cause allergy problems. Molds are present all year long and grow outdoors and indoors. Dead leaves and farm areas are common sources for outdoor molds. Indoor plants, old books, bathrooms, and damp areas are common sources of indoor mold growth. Mold is also common in foods such as cheese and fermented beverages.
Types of Testing
Allergy testing is performed using a combination of skin pricks and intradermal bubbles. Testing is done on the surface of the arm. There is minimal discomfort to the patient. Test results are available when session is completed. If Food allergy testing is indicated, this is performed by sending a sample of blood to the lab. The lab then analyzes the blood for presence of Food Allergies. This particular test method is called RAST. These results are generally available in 7 to 10 business days.
Antihistamines and nasal steroids are often used to treat allergies. Treatment of allergies may consist of various medications and environment controls. If these are unsuccessful at controlling symptoms then allergy immunotherapy may be considered.
When you get allergy shots, small doses of the substances that you are allergic to are injected into your arm. This helps your immune system to build a tolerance to the allergens.
At first, allergy shots are given once a week as you are in the building stage. When you receive allergy shots, you must stay in the office for 15 to 20 minutes to be observed for any reaction to the shots. Redness and warmth at the shot site are common but go away after a short period of time.
You may need to take allergy shots for 3 to 5 years. During your treatment, you will see your physician at least once every 6 months to evaluate the effectiveness of immunotherapy.