Allergies Q & A
Why do allergies happen?
Allergies are caused when a substance in the air or environment, called an allergen, gets into contact with a person either through consuming it, breathing it in, or touching it and the immune system responds as if it were attacking a virus. Allergies commonly cause symptoms such as:
- Feeling fatigued or ill
- Itchy, watery eyes and nose
- Nasal and/or sinus congestion
Food and insect allergies can also lead to other symptoms including nausea and vomiting, cramps, and pain.
What tests are used to diagnose allergies?
To determine what type of allergen is affecting a person and how to address the symptoms, the physicians at Premier Family Medical will ask about the symptoms experienced and what types of situations cause the allergy side effects. Allergy skin tests and blood tests are used to confirm what is causing the allergic reaction. During a skin allergy test, the doctor uses concentrated extracts of known, common allergens to check for a reaction on the skin. When a reaction is present, the doctor can see what the person is allergic to and to what degree. When a food allergy is suspected, the patient may have an idea of what caused the reaction, but further testing through elimination diets or in-office food allergy testing can confirm the diagnoses. In most cases, the food that caused a reaction will need to be avoided.
What treatments are available?
When allergy symptoms are too severe to be treated with over-the-counter medication, the doctors at Premier Family Medical can prescribe stronger medications including:
- Antihistamines and decongestants: these medications can help with nasal symptoms such as itching, running, sneezing, and congestion.
- Nasal sprays: when congestion is very severe these sprays can clear the passages.
- Eye Drops: several types of drops can be used to address red, itchy, and watery eyes.
- Allergy Shots: these injections can lessen the symptoms by working with the body to reduce the immune response.
At Premier Family Medical, AllergyEasy™ is also available. This option desensitizes the body to allergens without having to use injections.