For an allergy doctor in Frisco or San Angelo, TX, be sure to contact Ayass Lunc Clinic PLLC.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is an over reaction of the body to a normally harmless substance. This harmless substance is also known as an allergen. Examples of allergens are pollen, cat dander, mold, fruits, and nuts. Allergy is also called hypersensitivity, which literally means overly sensitive.
During an allergic reaction, the immune system mistakenly believes that a harmless substance–an allergen–is harmful. The body tries to protect itself and creates an antibody to that allergen. This antibody serves as a trigger. The next time the person comes in contact with that allergen, the immune system releases massive amounts of histamines and other chemicals in order to protect the body. Unfortunately, these chemicals and histamines trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.
There are many types of allergies. Some of the more common forms are:
• Food Allergy – An immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Examples of food allergy include wheat allergy, peanut allergy, milk allergy, and egg allergy.
• Pet Allergy – Examples include dog allergy and cat allergy, but any animal (birds, hamsters, rabbits, mice, gerbils, rats, and guinea pigs) can cause allergic reactions.
• Pollen and Fungi Allergy – A common example is allergy to ragweed pollen, which is called hayfever. Patients are typically allergic to grass and tree pollens, molds, and fungi.
• Household Allergy – This allergy includes allergens such as house-dust mite droppings, cat and dog dandruff, horsehair, and cockroach droppings.
• Drug Allergy – Allergy to antibiotics is a common form of drug allergy, though a patient can be allergic to almost any medication.
• Latex Allergy – Latex allergy is one of the most common occupational allergies and strikes health care workers. It produces varied symptoms, which commonly include runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, hives, and other itchy, burning sensations.
Allergy can manifest itself in many ways. Some common allergy-related conditions are:
• Asthma – Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs, which results in occasional airflow obstruction. This chronic inflammation causes spasms and swelling of the bronchial linings. There is a strong association between asthma and allergy. Exposure to allergens is one of the triggers of asthma.
• Rhinitis – Rhinitis includes hay fever and perennial rhinitis. Hay fever is the seasonal allergy that many people experience. It includes seasonal watery eyes, and runny nose. Perennial rhinitis or “permanent cold” is the allergic reaction to household allergens and can last year round.
• Dermatitis – Also called skin allergy, dermatitis includes rashes, dry flaking skin, or other skin manifestations that appear in relation to contact with an allergen. Hives are also an allergy-related condition and is known as urticaria.
• Anaphylaxis – This is a severe form of allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis is a sudden-onset, life-threatening reaction characterized by bronchial constriction and changes in blood flow (such as shock). Its clinical presentation may include respiratory, cardiovascular, cutaneous, or gastrointestinal manifestations. Any allergen can cause an anaphylactic reaction in any given person.
What are the risk factors and causes of an allergy?
There is a genetic component to most allergies, which means allergies are hereditary and passed to children from their parents. The child inherits the tendency to be allergic, but not to any specific allergen. If a child develops an allergy, it is likely that at least one parent of the child also has allergies. Another recently identified risk factor that appears to contribute to the development of allergy is the act of being exposed to allergens at certain times when the body’s defenses are low or weak, such as after a viral infection or during pregnancy.
What are the symptoms of allergy?
• Symptoms of allergic rhinitis occur when allergens touch the lining of the nose. Allergic rhinitis is characterized by congestion, itching and discharge from the nose and itchy, watery eyes.
• Symptoms of dermatitis result from exposure of the skin to an allergen. Allergy symptoms include itching, reddening, and flaking or peeling of the skin.
• Symptoms of urticaria or hives are characterized by itchy red bumps that can occur in clumps on the skin that can be either large or small. Hives are often triggered by infection, certain foods or medications. Foods commonly associated with hives include nuts, tomatoes, shellfish and berries. Medications commonly associated with hives include penicillin, sulfa, anti-seizure medications, and aspirin.
• Symptoms of asthma include coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing.
• Symptoms of food allergy may have severe and possibly life-threatening implications, and could include anaphylaxis and hives.
• Symptoms of anaphylaxis include a feeling of warmth, flushing, and/or tingling in the mouth, or a red, itchy rash. Other symptoms may include feelings of light-headedness, shortness of breath, severe sneezing, anxiety, stomach or uterine cramps, and/or vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, patients may experience a drop in blood pressure. Anaphylaxis can be fatal.
How is allergy diagnosed or evaluated?
A carefully obtained patient history, including environmental exposures, and the appropriate laboratory tests or allergen challenges is critical for the accurate diagnosis of allergy. Obtaining a complete history from the allergic patient involves getting a description of all symptoms along with their timing and length, plus obtaining a list of exposures to common allergens, and responses to previous therapies. Allergic diseases are often associated with increased numbers of blood particles known as eosinophils. The presence of more than 450 eosinophils/μL of blood is the most common abnormality noted on examination of the blood of allergic patients.
Allergen skin testing (allergen challenge) is the primary in-office procedure for the diagnosis of allergic disease. Minute amounts of an allergen are introduced into the patient’s skin. In an allergic patient, the allergen will result in an itchy wheal (raised skin) surrounded by an area of redness. Several allergens can be tested for at one time. The appearance of a red, raised area in response to a given allergen will help to identify the allergens to which the patient is allergic.
There is a new alternative to allergy skin testing! Ask your doctor about the next generation of automated allergy testing on the IMMULITE® 2000. It provides convenient, fast, accurate results with just one small blood sample.
Are you really allergic?
Is allergy medication necessary?
3gAllergy testing offers a simple screening test for inhalant allergy that can tell if you are allergic, or have a cold or nonallergic rhinitis.
• Uncomfortable for the patient
• Time consuming for doctor and patient
• Poor quality control
The advantages of in vitro blood tests over skin-prick tests are:
• Patient convenience and comfort
• Reduced office time required for diagnosis
• No need for patient to discontinue allergy medications or antidepressants for testing.