Allergy symptoms range from annoying to life threatening. Besides runny nose and itchy eyes, they can cause recurrent sinus and lung infections, asthma, headaches, fatigue, skin rashes, and even gastrointestinal disorders (like eosinophilic esophagitis). Serious allergies can cause anaphylaxis--a life-threatening reaction. Allergies are very common and cause significant health problems.
We use proven methods to quickly diagnose both environmental and food allergies. We usually use the skin prick method but can also use a blood sample drawn in our office. The skin test is not painful. A tiny comb gently scratches or abrades the skin surface. After the test is performed, it takes about 20 minutes to monitor for a reaction. A positive test will appear as a raised, red bump on the skin, similar to a mosquito bite. Most people tolerate the testing very well.
The total testing time is about 30 minutes: 10 minutes to apply the allergen and 20 minutes to register the results. Once we determine what you are allergic to, we will discuss your results and treatment options. We will provide you with education on how to avoid allergy exposure, and before you leave the office, you will have a better understanding of what you can do to control your allergies.
ALLERGY TEST PREP
In order to achieve the most accurate test results, you should discontinue any antihistamines, for at least 4 days prior to allergy testing. We also need to know if you have dermatographism, are taking beta-blockers or tricyclic antidepressants, or if you have a history of anaphylaxis.
Most insurance plans cover allergy testing and immunotherapy. We will verify insurance benefits prior to testing.
Each person's situation is unique. We will discuss a personalized treatment plan that will work best for your specific allergic situation. Treatment strategies can include:
Avoidance of the allergen
Medication to treat the body’s allergic response (like antihistamines)
Allergy immunotherapy aims to decrease your sensitivity to environmental allergens. It involves giving small amounts of an allergen to “desensitize” your immune system. It works to stop the allergies at their source, not just cover them up.
There are three ways to get allergy treatment. Subcutaneous injections (allergy shots) have been shown to be the most effective, are covered by many insurance plans, and have a low risk of reactions. Sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) can be effective but are not officially FDA approved or covered by insurance plans, but they do have the benefit of being taken at home on your own schedule. They only have benefit while taking the drops--their effect does not persist after stopping treatment. There is also an allergy tablet containing treatment for a few types of grass and pollens. This covers a fairly narrow spectrum of allergies but is also very convenient.
The initial course of immunotherapy usually lasts about a year but varies with each person. Some people may benefit from a longer course of treatment. Relief from allergies varies by individual, but the vast majority of patients see results within the first three months. Up to 85% receive a complete cure or a noticeable reduction in allergy symptoms by the end of their treatment regimen.
Allergy medication temporarily turns off the body's response to allergens while immunotherapy desensitizes you to your allergies. Long-term use of medication can be costly and can have side effects like drowsiness, loss of concentration, increased anxiety, nausea, loss of libido, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, difficulty with urination, tremors, dry mouth, gastritis, and dizziness. We have also seen antihistamines stop working after long-term use, leaving people with no options. Subcutaneous immunotherapy may sound daunting, but it has been used effectively for over a hundred years and has been shown to be the most effective treatment.
At this time we are not currently seeing patients for allergy treatment, please contact us with any questions you may have. Thank you.