• How to diagnose allergies and what are your treatment options

    by Kairos
    on May 2nd, 2018

How to diagnose allergies and what are your treatment options

It's allergy season in Texas and you feel like almost everyone around you is reaching for the box of tissues. Allergies are not fun! Stuffy, congested, itchy eyes and constant sneezing seem to be the most common self-diagnosed symptoms of the conditions, but not everyone reacts to allergens the same way. Knowing what and how it's affecting you could be the first step to find a treatment.

Is it allergies or the common cold?

Before grabbing that bottle of allergy meds, be sure you have allergies. Body's reaction to the common cold virus - Nasal or chest congestion, coughing/wheezing, sinus infections etc. are similar to as it's exposed a high pollen count, for example. one rule of thumb is how long the symptoms last. If you can't seem to get rid of that nagging cough after 10 days (which is usually the length of a common cold), then you may need to be tested for allergies.

Other common symptoms of allergies, especially in Texas, include:

 

Kinds of allergies

Allergies can largely be divided into 3 categories:

-    Seasonal

-   Environmental

-    Food

Seasonal allergies, as the name suggests, are specific to a certain time of the year. They are caused by airborne particles like pollen, mold or dust and can be predicted to occur around the same time each year. Seasonal allergens in Texas are produced largely by trees and plants and their blooming period:

Environmental allergies are harder to predict and tend to be triggered by the carrier all year round. Examples include mold, dust, cockroaches or fire ants, pet dander, and dust mites. While some, like dust, maybe harder to avoid, others are easier to stay away from. For example, houses with pets is a no-no for those who don't have their animal dander allergies under control

Food Allergies are often mistaken for intolerance to a certain kind of food like gluten and dairy. True food allergies are almost always caused by the same food type.

You have allergies. What next?

If your symptoms spell allergies, the next step would be to get tested by an allergist. The doctor will prick or scratch the skin on your back or forearm with a drop of an FDA approved liquid version of different allergens. After about 15 minutes of waiting, if the site shows a bit of redness or a bump that looks like a mosquito bite, you may be allergic to the substance. Those that cause raised irritation are severe enough that medical treatment may be necessary. Blood tests are also available, but the scratch test is quicker, painless and often more reliable.

What are your treatment options?

Treatment for allergies have come a long way and there are medical interventions to ensure you don't have to live with yours.

The first step in controlling your allergies is to control your exposure to the triggers. Stay away from animals if you are allergic to dander, or opt for the lactose-free version of dairy if your body doesn't agree with traditional dairy. Over the counter medicines may provide some relief but they only treat symptoms and not the cause itself. If neither options work, maybe it is time to consider medical treatment by the means of Allergy drops or shots.

Allergy Drops or Shots - what's right for you?

Sublingual immunotherapy or the drops are administered daily under the tongue.  The body absorbs these small amounts of allergens and builds up a tolerance, causing the symptoms to reduce or to disappear completely. It may sound like a no-brainer but since this method is not FDA approved, your insurance may not cover it.

If you have health insurance allergy shots are the way to go. They work on the same principle as the drops and are administered weekly or even bi-weekly by your healthcare provider.

No matter how you chose to tackle your allergies, there is an option that works for you! 


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Author Kairos

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