- Nasal Congestion
- Itchy, Watery Eyes
- Hives, Rashes
- Coughing Wheezing
- Shortness of Breath
- Sinus Infections
- Respiratory Infections
- Runny Nose
- Postnasal Drip
- Childhood Asthma
- Environmental Allergies
- Food Allergies
- Acid Reflux
- Pet Allergies
- Insect Sting Allergy
- Latex Allergy
- Exercise Induced Asthma
This is a test done to see if a person is allergic to a specific food or airborne allergen. The first step is usually the scratch or prick test. Disposable plastic “pinprick” devices are dipped in the allergy extracts and then used to prick the skin of the forearm or back. The skin test is read within fifteen to twenty minutes. A positive reaction is indicated by the skin surrounding the allergen turning pink, and a small bump appearing. It looks much like a mosquito bite, and may itch like one for a relatively short period of time.
The second step of the allergy test is called an intradermal test. It is performed only if there is no reaction to a specific allergen or if the response is borderline positive/negative. A small amount of allergy extract is injected under the skin and the test is again read after fifteen to twenty minutes. A positive reaction will appear as redness and/or a small bump in the area of injection.
Skin tests are used to detect allergies to substances breathed in (aeroallergens) such as mold, dust and pollen; foods, such as fish, eggs, milk or wheat; and stinging insects. Skin testing has been proven to be very effective in detecting sensitivity to aeroallergens.
Patients should be off all antihistamines (commonly found in cold/allergy medicines over the counter, and in sleep aids) for at least 3-5 days in order to ensure the accuracy of the test.
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Immunotherapy is generally recommended when medications and allergen avoidance do not provide adequate relief, symptoms are moderate to severe, and/or allergens are too difficult to avoid.
In the immunotherapy process, a series of injections is given with gradually increasing doses of allergen extracts. The specific substances to which the patient is allergic are used in the extract mix, which is customized for each patient. Each shot given during this phase has a bit higher dose than the preceding shot, until a “maintenance” dose is reached. This process helps the body to become tolerant of the very things that had previously triggered allergic reactions. This higher-level maintenance dose is continued for a period of time – generally three to five years – as allergy symptoms continue to abate.
Partial to complete relief is experienced in about two-thirds of patients. The relief can last for a period of years after the allergy shots are stopped. In some cases the relief is very long term.
Immunotherapy is not for every patient. Many patients are not willing to make the long-term commitment needed to achieve results, and there is a chance of having allergic reactions to the shots. Before you decide against immunotherapy as being too expensive or too time consuming think about how much you spend in the course of a year on antihistamines, decongestants, analgesics, etc, in order to relief symptoms. Also consider how much productive time is missed from work and/or school due to inadequate control of symptoms.