What Are Allergies?

Posted in Blog on May 10, 2022

Woman sneezing in a field due to allergies

Allergies are abnormal immune system reactions to certain things that are typically harmless to most people. Common allergens include some foods, dust, plant pollen, medicines, and more. The severity of allergies can vary from person to person. Some allergies can be minor irritation or potentially life- threatening. Allergies can happen to anyone at any age, and you can even develop allergies as you age.

Symptoms of Allergies

Suffering from allergies may interfere with your quality of life. Some allergy sufferers have become accustomed to living with their symptoms and are unaware that seeking help from a Board-Certified Allergist can change their quality of life! Allergic reaction symptoms may include:

  • Itchy, watery, swollen eyes
  • Postnasal drip
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Frequent ear and/or sinus infections

Untreated allergies may also cause loss of concentration or migraine headaches. Do not let allergies control your life when you can control your allergies!

How do you test for an allergy?

Our allergy testing can include both skin testing and patch testing to determine if you have allergies. Skin testing is the most sensitive way to determine allergy to tree, grass, and weed pollen, as well as mold, house dust mite, and animals. Small disposable plastic devices are used to apply tiny “pricks” to the forearm or back. Depending on the results (interpreted after a few minutes), additional testing may be applied underneath the skin on the upper arm. For this procedure, a cream containing a topical anesthetic may be used to assist in making infants and small children more comfortable.

Patch testing may be used for patients with suspected delayed allergic reactions that occur several hours or days after exposure to foods or chemicals. This non-invasive procedure involves the application of small paper adhesive “patches” (each containing a distinct chemical or food) to the back. The patches remain in place for two days and then they are removed. Results are interpreted at two and four days following the application of the patches.

Once a diagnosis is in place, our allergy specialist will discuss treatment options. The immediate goal of treatment is to prevent the need for emergency room use and hospitalization! Treatment also provides allergy relief so patients may sleep through the night, attend work or school regularly, and participate in normal activities. Treatment options can range from avoidance of allergens, medications, or allergy shots (immunotherapy).

At The Allergy and Asthma Group of Galen, our board-certified physicians can guide you through making the decision to start your treatment option today. Call our office at (423) 499-4100 to make an appointment with our specialists today!