WHAT IS AN ALLERGY?
Allergies can affect anyone. These abnormal reactions or increased sensitivities to certain substances can cause those with symptoms to have irritated skin, nose, eyes, chest, and more. This is due to the release of one of the body's natural chemicals: histamine. Histamines are produced mainly when a reaction between allergens and IgE antibodies occur. The most common allergens are pollens, animal danders, house dust, house dust mites, molds, some drugs, and many foods - especially fish, eggs, milk and nuts.
WHO BECOMES ALLERGIC?
If both parents suffer from an allergy, it is more like likely that their children will contract the condition as well. However there are rare cases when a child can develop an allergy on their own, due to exposure and adverse reaction to certain allergens. However, it is significant to note that only approximately 15% of the U.S. population suffers from some type of significant allergy.
It is essential for successful treatment that the allergens responsible for the symptoms are accurately identified. And, there are different ways to arrive at a diagnosis. In almost all cases, a patient's CASE HISTORY is going to be the deciding factor in the allergy investigation. Based on what the patient tells us about their symptoms, the doctor decides what tests should be carried out.
At Eastern CT Ear, Nose & Throat, we have found skin testing to be more sensitive then blood testing. One method of skin testing we do is called Skin Endpoint Titration (S.E.T.). During S.E.T. testing, a controlled amount of allergen is injected between the layers of skin in the upper arm making a small flea-bite-sized bubble. These bubbles are measured after ten minutes. The series of injections are continued every ten minutes until the endpoint or sensitivity level is found. Skin prick is another form of skin testing using the inner forearm. Allergens are pressed onto the skin and read after twenty minutes. A combination of both of these methods can also be done for the best results.
There is no cure for any allergy. Though, in some instances, it is possible to reduce a person's allergic sensitivity to the point that it is no longer such a bother. The treatment is usually avoidance of the allergen. This is something that can range from simple lifestyle changes to unavoidable exposures.
For patients who are unable to avoid certain allergens, who cannot tolerate allergy medication, or whose allergic problems are severe, a series of injections called immunotherapy or desensitization may be required. This therapy consists of weekly injections which contain increasing amounts of the substance to which the person is allergic. Eventually, the patient's body reaches a maintenance level of immunity.
There are other special circumstances - people allergic to pet dander for instance - where more specialized, and regulated therapy is required. Our Allergy Center is equipped for these unique types of treatments and will provide a diagnosis and personalized plan for you based on all your contributing allergy factors.
Many of our patients find that symptoms of allergies - including a dripping or stuffy nose, sneezing, itching in the eyes, nose and throat, or worsened asthma can get in their way of enjoying the beautiful outdoors.
If those symptoms sound familiar, you might be interested in a treatment that many of our patients are finding helpful. The treatment, known as sublingual immunotherapy or allergy drops, helps patients build a tolerance to substances that cause allergies. The drops work similar to allergy shots, but the delivery of a liquid drop under the tongue can be easier and more convenient for patients to tolerate.
Research has proven allergy drops' effectiveness, and you can safely administer them at home which can mean fewer office visits for you. Drops can be used safely for a broader range of patients including infants and children, people with chronic health conditions that are not candidates for, or who prefer not to have shots, and are also an effective treatment for food allergies. The World Health Organization also supports the use of allergy drops as an effective alternative, and their use is rapidly growing worldwide. Most importantly, the treatment provides you with an opportunity for lasting, and often permanent, benefits.
If you're interested in more information about our allergy drop program and whether it might be for you or to make an appointment, please contact us.