Allergy Testing & Treatment
If you suffer from an allergy, you might take some solace in the knowledge that you’re not alone in your discomfort. Studies show that at last one allergy or another affects five out of every 10 Americans. And here in Southern California, where we’re prone to Santa Ana winds that bring allergens from other parts of the western United States, we’re not immune to the havoc allergies can cause.
From house dust and pollen that stake a year-round claim on our part of the country, to allergies brought on by food and our region’s unique year-round seasonality, Southern California is a hotbed of allergic activity.
Here at Restoration Healthcare, we take a holistic approach in diagnosing and treating allergies such as yours. For example, in addition to performing allergy skin tests, we take blood tests that give us an overall assessment of the health of your biochemistry. High inflammation, heavy metal toxicity and food can have a huge impact on someone’s allergic reactions. Understanding your unique biochemical markers enables us to provide an individual program to address your allergies. In addition to offering allergy shots and treatments — all of which are mercury and preservative free — we also have natural ways to control allergy symptoms without medication.
Before calling our office for an appointment to discuss your allergies, here’s some additional information you might like to know:
What is an allergy?
Technically speaking, an allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of your immune system. For most people, such things as pollen, mold, dust, certain foods and drugs, along with pet hair, have no adverse effects. You can rub an entire cat in their faces and they’re just fine with that. But for allergy sufferers, these substances are as pesky to them as kryptonite is to Superman. That’s because the body’s immune system produces an antibody — called IgE — to bind an allergen. These antibodies attach themselves and form a mast cell, which can be found in the airways, intestines and other parts of the body. It’s the presence of these mast cells that make your lungs and stomach more susceptible to allergen exposure. Ultimately, allergens bind to the IgE antibody, causing mast cells to release histamine — the primary chemical that prompts most systems of an allergic reaction.
How do these allergies develop?
Heredity gets the blame for most everything, but in this case, you should take a look at your family tree. There’s a direct correlation between allergies and genetics, which means if you’ve got allergies, chances are others in your family probably suffer from them as well.
Eczema (the word we use for a whole group of medical conditions that can cause your skin to become irritated of inflamed) and allergies to food usually develop in children at a young age, whereas those allergies that are inhaled usually take a couple of spring seasons to develop. The signs and symptoms of allergies we inhale are usually not detectable until we’re three years of age or older. But since allergies can come on at any stage of life, it’s good to be able to understand the systems and symptoms that may cause them.
How do I recognize the symptoms of allergies?
The symptoms most commonly associated with allergies are the usual suspects, including a runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, post nasal drip, nasal congestions, and — in the case of asthma — wheezing. Other symptoms that might crop up at the scene, but are not as obvious as other symptoms, are headaches, itching ear, snoring, partial loss of the ability to taste and smell, sleep disruptions, tiredness — and its subsequent grumpiness.
What is the testing procedure for allergies?
To determine what allergies you might suffer, your doctor will ask questions about your habits and symptoms. Following that interview, tests are taken, including a physical exam. The best test for allergies is a skin test, an office procedure that takes just a few moments and can often determine, on the spot, with a minimum of discomfort, what you’re allergic to. The doctor will use a liquid extract of common allergens such as dust, mold or animal dander, and lightly prick the surface of your skin to introduce the extract. How you react to the skin prick determines whether you have an allergy. There are also food allergy tests, blood tests and food elimination tests where suspect ingredients are removed from your diet to determine what effect if any they may play in your overall health.
Is there a happy ending to all this testing and treatment?
Injections don’t cure allergies, but they can help your body normalize and get used to allergens — those items that trigger your allergic reactions. Your symptoms can improve and immunotherapy often works when other drug treatments fail. And of course there are antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids and others available either by prescription or over-the-counter that can ease and treat such symptoms as runny nose and congestion but do not regulate your immune system.
What happens if I allow my allergies to go untreated?
The usual symptoms of allergies — sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy nose and watery eyes — can be precursor to asthma. In fact, medical studies show that more than 85 percent of people who suffer asthma also have symptoms of allergies. If left untreated, allergies can cause sinusitis, sore throats, sleep issues, irritability and low productivity at school or in the workplace.