Depending on your specific condition and a number of other factors, the three most effective ways to treat allergies are avoidance, medication and allergen immunotherapy.
Once the allergens causing the problem are identified, avoidance is the best treatment. The costs are minimal with no medication side effects, and it can be a curative approach. Those who suffer from allergies to dust, molds, pollen, animal dander and other environmental allergens can take steps to reduce the amount of allergen contact. In addition, asthma can be triggered by various allergens and pollutants, so avoidance may prevent asthma attacks. We offer counseling and education on avoidance and ways to reduce exposure.
When avoidance fails or is not possible, medications may be required to treat symptoms. There are a number of safe and effective drugs, both over-the counter and prescription, to treat allergic rhinitis, eczema, asthma and other allergic diseases. Medications can treat acute symptoms, but they also may be used daily for control of symptoms, such as in persistent asthma.
Unfortunately, sometimes medications and changes to your environment cannot fully control allergy symptoms. Allergen immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots) is an effective and safe treatment for people who suffer from a variety of allergic diseases, including allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic asthma and insect stings. When successful, patients experience a significant decrease in symptoms and require less additional medication.
Allergy shots build tolerance to the specific allergens that are causing a reaction. This is achieved by injecting increasingly larger doses of each allergen into your upper arms over a prolonged period of time. The first injections are very dilute and are given weekly. The concentration is increased gradually until a maintenance dosage is reached. Maintenance dosages are usually given every two to four weeks. Allergy shots should be continued for several years to be effective.
Airborne, insect and food allergens by measuring your level of allergic antibodies (IgE) to these allergens.
Using a tiny plastic device, we apply small amounts of solutions that contain different allergens to the skin with a small scratch (or skin prick). A raised area on the skin indicates a positive reaction. A positive reaction does not always mean that you are allergic to that allergen, since other factors may play a role.
If we suspect an allergen that does not show up on prick tests, we usually repeat the same allergen using a very small needle. We inject a small amount of allergen into the first layer of skin forming a small bubble or bleb. If positive, it will look and feel like a small mosquito bite (same as the prick test.)
We usually have results within 15 to 20 minutes. The testing area may get itchy, but this usually doesn’t last very long.
You should refrain from using antihistamines at least 5 to 7 days prior to your testing visit. Skin testing is usually not performed on those who have had a severe life-threatening reaction to an allergen or those with severe eczema or hives.
Chemicals causing a delayed type of reaction, as in contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is not a true allergy involving allergic antibodies. Rather, it results from white blood cells (T-cells) entering the skin in response to an irritant.
We place a safe, chemical patch test panel on your back using paper tape. The patch remains on the skin for two days, and we then remove it for an initial reading. The tests are read again three to four days after the initial placement.
To prepare for the test, a patient should have clean skin and should have recently bathed. The skin should not be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, which may irritate the skin. The tape cannot get wet while placed on the back, so bathing is limited during this time. Vigorous sports should be avoided, because if the adhesive tapes peel off, the process will have to be repeated. A test is considered positive if bumps, blisters or swelling develop at the individual sites.
For one month prior to patch testing, you should not take any oral steroids or systemic immunosuppressants. Topical steroids cannot be used at the site of patch testing for one week prior to testing. Antihistamines, inhaled steroids and leukotriene receptor antagonists can be continued as usual.
The amount of air in your lungs and how quickly you can move air out of your lungs. This test can help diagnose asthma, measure the severity of asthma and monitor how well treatment is working.
You breathe into a mouthpiece attached to a recording device (spirometer), and the results are printed out on a chart called a spirogram.
This is a simple, non-invasive test, and results are available immediately. Depending on your results, you may be given a bronchodilator treatment, such as albuterol or levoalbuterol, while in the office.
Food allergies and environmental allergies by detecting allergic antibodies (IgE) to allergens (ImmunoCAP test); immune system deficiencies in patients with recurrent infections; evaluation of chronic hives; and other issues.
Blood tests are usually ordered when a patient cannot undergo a skin test because of antihistamine use or various skin diseases, when a patient has an immune system disorder or when a patient has chronic hives. Blood tests are performed at outside labs.
Depending on the test ordered, results are usually available within a few days to weeks.
Lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia; chronic sinus problems such as chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps or other sinus disease.
X-rays or CT scans are taken of the chest or sinuses. Tests are performed at an area hospital or radiology center.
A report will usually be sent to us soon after the imaging test is performed. In some cases, we may ask that you bring a copy of the X-ray or CT scan to your next visit.