Tired of letting allergies control your life?
The Allergy Center at Eastern Connecticut Ear, Nose & Throat is here to provide you with the information, medical insight, and treatment you need to battle your body’s worst natural enemies. Learn more about allergy symptoms, causes, diagnoses, and our allergists’ treatment options.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is an abnormal reaction or increased sensitivity to a certain substance, or allergen. This occurs due to the release of one of the body’s natural chemicals: histamine. Histamines are produced mainly when a reaction between allergens and immunoglobin E (IgE) antibodies occur.
Who becomes allergic?
Allergies can affect anyone, although only about 15 percent of the U.S. population suffers from some type of significant allergy. Children are more likely to develop an allergy if both parents suffer from the same condition. However, there are rare occasions when a child can develop an allergy on their own due to exposure and adverse reaction to certain allergens.
What are some symptoms of an allergy?
Allergies typically cause irritation to the skin, nose, eyes, or chest, but can affect other parts of the body as well. The nose is most likely to experience symptoms, including sneezing, nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, post nasal drip, and chronic sinus problems. Allergies can also cause itchy or watery eyes, head congestion, ear infections, hearing loss, chronic headaches, or fatigue.
What are some common allergens?
The most common allergens are pollens, animal dander, dust, dust mites, mold, and some drugs. Many foods can also cause allergic reactions, especially fish, eggs, milk, and nuts.
How can an allergist diagnose the problem?
In order to successfully treat an allergy, the allergens responsible must be identified. In almost all cases, a patient’s case history will be a crucial factor. Based on the symptoms reported by a patient, the doctor will decide what tests should be conducted.
What will an allergy test do?
At Eastern Connecticut Ear, Nose & Throat, our Allergy Center has found skin testing to be more effective than blood testing. One method of skin testing we perform is called Skin Endpoint Titration, or S.E.T.
During S.E.T. testing, a controlled amount of allergen is injected between the layers of skin in the upper arm to make small, flea-bite-sized bubbles. These bubbles are measured every 10 minutes. The injections continue every 10 minutes until the endpoint or sensitivity level is found.
Skin prick is another form of skin testing. Allergens are pressed onto the skin of the inner forearm, and the skin will be checked for signs of an allergic reaction after 20 minutes.
A combination of both methods can also be done for the best results.
What treatments are available?
There is no cure for an allergic reaction. The best treatment is to avoid exposure to an allergen. In some instances, allergy medications can reduce a person’s allergic sensitivity to a point where it is much less of a hindrance.
If a patient is unable to avoid exposure to allergens, has serious allergic problems, or cannot tolerate allergy medication, a treatment called immunotherapy or desensitization may be required. This therapy administers weekly injections with increasing concentrations of an allergen. Eventually, the patient develops more immunity to the substance and requires less frequent maintenance doses.
In some circumstances, such as sensitivity to pet dander, a 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 based on your contributing allergy factors.
Will allergy drops work for me?
Allergy drops, or sublingual immunotherapy, help patients build a tolerance to substances that cause allergies. These drops are similar to allergy shots but can be easier and more convenient for patients since they are delivered by placing a liquid drop under the tongue.
Allergy drops can be safely administered at home, minimizing the number of visits to the doctor for treatment. They can also be used across a broad range of patients including infants and children, people with chronic health conditions, and those with food allergies.
The World Health Organization supports the use of allergy drops as an effective alternative to shots, and their use is growing rapidly worldwide. Most importantly, the treatment provides you with an opportunity for lasting, and often permanent, benefits.