HEALTH CENTER

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Do You Suffer From Allergies? by Rachael Chastain

A runny nose, watery-itchy eyes, sneezing, sinus headaches, skin rash, eczema, congestion, nasal polyps, and asthma are all caused by allergies.  Allergies are the fifth leading chronic disease in the United States.  One in five people show symptoms for allergies or asthma.  Allergies are a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. When we are exposed to something harmless in our environment our immune systems make the mistake of thinking the allergen is harmful.  Our immune system attacks the allergen with a far greater force needed to destroy that allergen.  As a result, it’s actually our immune system that gives us all those lovely symptoms, not the actual allergen.

Luckily, there are ways to detect allergies so you may better avoid them. This can be achieved with a simple scratch test. The test takes about 20 to 30 minutes and consists of applying diluted extracts of various allergens to an area on the back or arm. The person administering the test gives the extract about 15 minutes to react with your skin. If there is a reaction, the size and width of the hive is recorded. The size and swelling of your hives will indicate how allergic you are to a specific allergen.  The test can be extremely itchy, but at the end you will have a better understanding of your allergies and you can proceed forward with a treatment plan. Three of the most common methods for dealing with allergies are avoidance, medication, and immunotherapy. Avoidance isn’t always practical, especially if you are allergic to dust, mold and pollen. Medications such as decongestants and antihistamines can help control some of your allergies, but this may not be enough for some.  Consequently, immunotherapy is the next option. There are two ways immunotherapy can be administered: injection once a week for three years or by a drop under the tongue every day for three years. Immunotherapy can be better for some due to how it works in your body. A very weak dilution of the allergens is either injected or ingested into the body and gradually build up in strength until you have a maintenance dose that you will continue over time. This will help the immune system to decrease production of IgE antibodies (what causes the allergic reaction) and help stimulate the production of IgG which is a blocking antibody.

If you suffer from allergies and are seeking relief, it may be a good idea to ask your doctor about getting a scratch test. When you determine what exactly your allergies are you’ll be able to look at options for the best way to control them.  Wishing you freedom from those miserable allergy days!

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.