An allergen can strike at any time, in a food, in the air, on a pet’s skin, or through contact with a plant. Allergic reactions can range from a mild sensitivity that shows up as a rash or a cold-like symptom; or severe, like full body hives or even anaphylactic shock.
SLENT has several locations, in Slidell, Hammond, and Mandeville, Louisiana, and our otolaryngology specialists can order allergy testing for you or your child. Following diagnosis, we can help you plan for allergy management and even prescribe immunotherapy, if appropriate.
An allergic reaction is basically your body’s early defense system recognizing what it thinks is a threat and acting accordingly. Basically, your immune system goes into overdrive. This can result in swelling and irritation.
When this happens on your skin, it’s annoying and even painful. When it happens in your gut, it can be explosive and embarrassing. When it happens in your airway, it can be terrifying and life-threatening.
Many people are mildly allergic to just one or two things. Millions of people, for example, are allergic to things like plant pollen or pet dander. These allergens typically have an annoying effect, causing itchy, watery eyes or constant sneezing.
Other people have more severe allergies, such as food or medication allergies, that can cause violent stomach issues or respiratory problems that require use of an inhaler or even an injectable medication to treat.
If you have a severe allergy, you have a higher risk of developing a new allergy to other things in the same allergen group, such as foods, medications, or plants. If you have either allergies or asthma, you’re also more likely to have the other condition as well.
We carry out two types of allergy tests. Blood tests are designed to detect very specific allergies that can be identified by markers in the blood. Skin tests involve a grid on your back and a different allergen administered by a fine needle prick into the top layer of skin on each square. If a red area or welt develops, your body is having an immune response.
There are three ways to treat allergies:
If most of your allergies seem to be food-based, you can use an elimination diet to help you identify and get rid of those foods that cause a reaction.This can cut down on episodes of severe stomach upset.
We may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to minimize symptoms if you have a reaction, and ensure you have an EpiPen® or similar device to treat emergency situations like a closing airway.
If you have repeated dramatic immune responses to allergens, you might want to try immunotherapy. Depending on your allergen type, we may use allergy shots or oral sublingual treatments. These will help your body adjust to small doses of allergens, so its immune response isn’t as extreme when it encounters the real thing.
Ready to take on your allergies? To get in touch with the experts at SLENT, call the office closest to you, or contact us online.