Allergies are a widespread condition that affects approximately one out of every five Americans. They occur throughout the year in all types of climates and can be triggered by pollen, mold spores, dust mites, animal dander, food, chemicals, medications and other environmental irritants.
With so many possible causes, finding the source of your allergic response is crucial to treating the symptoms.
Allergies are an exaggerated immune system response to a substance that is otherwise harmless. Identifying the trigger is necessary in order to formulate a treatment plan. This requires allergy testing. A doctor will review your medical history, ask questions about your symptoms and administer either a skin or blood test.
Once the allergen trigger is found, treatment can begin. There are three types of allergy treatment available.
The least invasive treatment method for allergies is avoiding the triggers responsible for your symptoms. This is most effective if you are suffering from food or pet allergies, but less likely to succeed for those allergic to pollen, molds and dust mites.
Steps can be taken to reduce exposure, but it’s difficult to completely eliminate these substances from your life. Strategies include running the air conditioner during hot, dry weather, limiting outdoor activities during peak pollen-producing times, buying allergy-proof bedding and using a dehumidifier.
Certain medications can be effective in reducing the severity of your allergy symptoms. These include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, nasal sprays, eye drops and mast cell inhibitors. While these don’t cure your allergies, they may at least make life tolerable.
This option may be helpful for individuals who are unable to avoid allergens and do not find relief from medications. Immunotherapy, often referred to as allergy shots, involves introducing small amounts of the allergen into the body, allowing it to build up a tolerance.
Small doses are gradually increased until a maintenance level is reached; treatment then continues for three to five years until immunity is achieved. The procedure is considered safe and effective, and has been approved by the FDA.
A new, alternative form of treatment called sublingual immunotherapy relies on droplets of extract instead of injections and can be self-administered at home. It has not yet been approved by the FDA, but studies show it is every bit as effective and has fewer risks of side effects.
Call CENTA Medical Group at (803) 256-2483 for more information or to schedule an appointment.