If you’re one of the many people that suffer from allergies or reactions you can’t seem to control, several treatments are available that can alleviate your symptoms and make your life a little less miserable. There are over-the-counter solutions, true. However, an experienced allergist or allergy doctor is the best source of treatment for your allergies as they can accurately determine what’s causing these reactions and outbreaks in the first place. This is of course necessary in deciding on a treatment regimen designed specifically for you. Of course, this will vary depending on the type of allergy one has.
What Type Of Allergies Do I Have?
Before your appointment, make a list of your symptoms and substances or factors that trigger them, whether it’s food, environmental factors, or something else. This will help your doctor determine both the type of allergy and the treatment, because different types of allergies may require different types of treatments. If you’re allergic to one or more foods, keeping a sort of “food diary” can help determine what those may be. A food diary is very important because many foods have hidden allergens that aren’t necessarily listed in easily-understood terms. Sometimes those additives can trigger an allergic response, so keeping a diary or a tracking log and checking the ingredients when possible can be a useful adjunct to your allergy diagnosis.
What Types Of Diagnostic Measures Are Used?
In order to determine the specific types of allergies you have, your allergy doctor may perform either a skin test or a blood test or sometimes both. Sometimes, a patient’s sensitivity to multiple items can combine to precipitate an allergic response, so the tests are an integral part of the diagnosis and correctly narrowing down what to target.
During a skin test, your doctor or nurse will inject minute amounts of a potential allergen under your skin. If you’re allergic, you’ll develop a bump, and the size of the bump will determine the degree of your allergic response.
A RAST or ImmunoCAP test will measure the level of antibodies in your blood, and a lab will determine the specific allergens involved.
What Are The Treatment Options Available?
Several types of treatment options are available, and the degree of your allergic response can be a determining factor. As with anything related to your health, it’s advised to not turn a blind eye to these reactions you may experience, especially the more severe ones. An anaphylactic response can be life-threatening, so your allergy doctor needs to know if you’ve experienced any type of anaphylactic reaction in the past. Your response to the skin test and the blood test can help determine the course of your treatment regimen. Depending on the results, your treatment can include one or more of the following:
Particularly for those who have experienced any type of anaphylactic reaction, this is usually one of the best steps you can take to avoid a reaction and reduce your allergic symptoms. Sometimes, however, avoidance is difficult or almost impossible to implement, so your allergy doctor may suggest additional treatment protocols to reduce both your risk and your symptoms.
EpiPen et al
If you’ve experienced anaphylaxis in the past or if your symptoms seem to be getting progressively worse, then your allergy doctor may recommend that you carry a supply of emergency epinephrine with you at all times. Epinephrine is used to reduce the severity of an allergic reaction until medical treatment can be administered and for those who are prone to an anaphylactic response, an emergency injection of epinephrine can be life-saving.
If other treatment protocols haven’t been entirely successful, your allergy doctor may recommend you undergo immunotherapy. This treatment can help decrease your body’s sensitivity to one or more allergens – it’s often referred to as desensitization for allergies. Several options are available for immunotherapy, including shots, drops, and sublingual tablets and they can be either over-the-counter or prescription, depending on the severity of the allergy.
Of course, there are a plethora of medications available, both over-the-counter and prescription, and they fall into the categories of:
- Antihistamines: These block or reduce the body’s production of histamines, which cause the stuffiness, runny nose, and watery eyes that are common with an allergic reaction.
- Corticosteroids: These reduce the inflammation that can occur, particularly in the nasal passages.
- Decongestants: These shrink swollen tissues and blood vessels in the nasal passages, but there are contraindications, so check with your allergy doctor before you use them if you have additional or serious health issues.
- Eye Drops: These can relieve the itchiness and watery eyes that sometimes occur with allergies.
- Mast Cell Inhibitors: These prevent allergy symptoms from occurring but must be taken in advance of the need, such as before the onset of the typical allergy season.
Some types of medications are better for some types of allergies, so the type of allergy you have will determine, in part, the type of medication that’s recommended. Medications are available as capsules, eye drops, liquid ingestible, pills, or tablets. Your allergy doctor may also recommend steroids for a specified time, depending on your symptoms and your conditions. Usually, conditions such as rashes or hives are more likely to need steroids than a runny nose or watery eyes, but your allergy doctor will determine that.
In addition to the treatment above, your allergy doctor may recommend that you allergy-proof your environment through the use of air filters, special mattress and pillow covers, dehumidifiers, and the elimination of some indoor plants. Avoiding environmental triggers can play a major role in reducing the onset of allergies. Although we don’t think much about them, dust mites and mold can trigger severe allergies, as can insects.
It is highly imperative that you, or a loved one currently being treated for allergic outbreaks, keep going to your scheduled visits with your specialist. Many treatments and shots can boast more effectiveness with punctual visits, showing up to your appointments, and staying on track.