Whether you’re new to the Lowcountry or if you’ve lived here your entire life, allergies are a common cause for discomfort for individuals of all ages. From infants and toddlers to young adults or senior citizens, allergies can develop at any time in one’s life and the good news is – we’re here to help when they do!
“Allergies” is the term commonly used to describe the disease of the upper respiratory tract caused by allergens (also known as “allergic rhinitis”). Rhinitis is the term used for inflammation of the nasal passages. This disease is often referred to as “hay fever,” and affects more than 50 million Americans each year.
Allergic rhinitis can be seasonal or year-round. Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis typically occur in the spring, summer and/or fall. They are usually caused by sensitization to pollens from trees, grasses, weeds and/or airborne mold spores. Perennial allergic rhinitis causes symptoms year-round. Perennial allergic rhinitis is generally caused by sensitivity to dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches and/or mold spores.
What are the symptoms of allergies?
Frequently Asked Questions About Allergies
- Loss of taste and smell
- Low productivity
- Poor concentration
- Sleep disturbances
Allergy symptoms can be more than bothersome or irritating, they can interfere with your day-to-day activities and sleep. Allergies can result in loss of productivity, missed work or school and an overall poor quality of life. Seeking the help of a board-certified allergist who specializes in treating allergies and asthma is the key to treating your allergies.
Allergic rhinitis is common, affecting 10 to 30 percent of children and adults in the United States. Studies have shown that allergic rhinitis is the result of both genetic and environmental factors. Parental history of allergic rhinitis or another atopic disease (asthma, eczema) increases a patient’s risk. However, other environmental exposure factors also play a role. When allergic patients are exposed to an allergen, their bodies respond by making allergen-specific antibodies (called immunoglobulin E, or IgE). These allergy antibodies bind specific receptors on specialized cells in the lining of the respiratory tract and other specialized cells in the blood. When these patients breathe in the same allergen, the antibodies trigger the activation of the specialized cells, which release products like histamine that cause symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Non-allergic (or vasomotor) rhinitis is diagnosed by chronic sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and post-nasal drip in the absence of a specific, identifiable cause. While the symptoms are very similar to those of allergic rhinitis, these patients do not show positive testing to inhalant allergens. Pure chronic non-allergic rhinitis (NAR) may be responsible for anywhere from 17 to 52 percent of all cases of rhinitis in adults. Many of these patients find that their symptoms are triggered by strong odors like perfumes, smoke and /or cleaning agents. Patients with any nasal symptoms should undergo allergy testing by a board-certified allergist in order to determine if their symptoms are due to allergies. While certain treatments for both diseases are similar, your board-certified allergist will target specific treatments based on the results of testing.
Irritant rhinitis has been reported among workers with chronic and/or episodic exposures to irritant gases, vapors, fumes or smokes.
Once the allergist knows the allergens that are causing your symptoms, an effective treatment plan can be recommended. These treatment plans include:
- Avoidance of allergens
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots)
The allergist will conduct a patient history including an assessment of your symptoms, a relevant physical exam and a thorough environmental evaluation. The allergist will also conduct a skin test/allergy test to determine exactly what you are allergic to. Substances such as dust mites, pollens, mold and pet dander are considered common allergens.
What is a Skin Test?
Allergies can be the underlying cause of frequent sinus, ear and upper and lower respiratory tract infections. Untreated allergies can even exacerbate or cause asthma. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that “approximately 80 percent of all asthma in children and half of all asthma in adults is caused by allergies.”
Common allergic diseases diagnosed in childhood include environmental/seasonal/inhalant allergies, asthma, eczema/atopic dermatitis, and food allergies. Once a child is diagnosed with an atopic or allergic disease, he or she is more likely to develop one (or more) of the other allergic disorders. If a child’s parent or sibling has an allergic disease, he or she is at increased risk for developing atopic disorders as well. Additionally, some allergic diseases are more commonly seen together than others. Environmental allergies and asthma are frequently seen together and are two of the most common causes of missed school days. If a patient has poorly controlled allergy symptoms, then their asthma can flare more frequently and be more difficult to manage. In children, asthma may present as recurrent cough, wheezing, or shortness of breath, but it can also present with prolonged respiratory symptoms after colds and regular nighttime cough. Children with eczema have an increased risk for developing food allergies early in life. A board-certified allergist can help identify your child’s allergies and ensure that they are able to enjoy a happy, healthy and active childhood.
Schedule an Appointment
A board-certified allergist has specialized training and expertise in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma. Our allergists will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that works best for you. Fortunately, most allergy sufferers can find excellent relief with the right treatment plan.
Don’t wait any longer to start improving your quality of life. Schedule an appointment today!