An allergy is the body’s attempt to defend itself against a normally harmless substance, such as dust or pollen. The body’s immune system mistakenly identifies these harmless substances as things that could hurt you, such as a virus or bacteria. To defend itself, the body launches an aggressive attack, triggering allergy symptoms.
Affinity’s board-certified doctors, nurses and other medical specialists treat patients with many types of allergies, including environmental, food and animal allergies. Through treatment, we are able to reduce or eliminate many patients’ troublesome allergy symptoms, helping them return to a normal, comfortable lifestyle.
Who gets allergies?
Allergies can affect anyone. Age, gender, race and socioeconomic status have no impact. While allergies are most common in children, they can occur for the first time at any age. They can also develop gradually over a period of time, or reappear after many years in remission. If your parents or other relatives have allergies, you are more prone to allergies. Other factors, such as hormones, stress, smoke, perfume and environmental irritants may contribute to allergies as well.
If you think you have an allergy, contact your primary care doctor. Your doctor will do a clinical examination and review your medical history. To identify the specific substance causing your allergy, your doctor may order a skin or blood test.
Allergic reactions occur wherever you have immune system cells, including the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, nose, sinuses, throat and lungs. Allergens invade the body when you inhale, swallow or touch them with your skin.
Common allergy symptoms are:
- rhinitis — stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy nose, nasal discharge, itchy ears or roof of mouth
- allergic conjunctivitis — red, itchy, watery eyes
- atopic dermatitis — red, itchy, dry skin
- urticaria — hives or itchy welts
- contact dermatitis — itchy skin rash
- asthma — airway problems such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.
There are hundreds of ordinary substances or combinations of substances that can trigger an allergic reaction. The most common are:
- pollens and molds
- household dust, dust mites and their waste
- animal protein (dander, urine, oil from skin)
- industrial chemicals
- insect stings
- cockroaches and their waste.
Allergy treatment depends on the specific allergy. Affinity Ear, Nose & Throat specialists work with your doctor to develop the right treatment plan for you. Three common treatment options include medication, immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT (allergy drops). Your doctor will base treatment decisions on:
- your overall health and medical history
- extent of the allergy
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
- your opinion or preference for certain treatments
- possible long-term effects of your allergy.