Allergy, a hypersensitivity disorder in the immune system, is one of the most common chronic diseases in America.
Risk factors can be grouped into two categories
1) “host:” heredity (most significant), gender, race, and age
2) “environmental:” exposure to infectious diseases in early childhood, pollution, allergen levels, and dietary changes.
Symptoms, which affect the ear, nose and throat region, include headaches, dizziness, ear troubles, recurring sinusitis, chronic sore throats, hoarseness, and chronic cough could all be related to allergies.
Allergy symptoms appear when the immune system reacts to an allergic substance (allergen) that has entered the body as though it were an unwelcome invader. The immune system will produce special antibodies capable of recognizing the same allergic substance if it enters the body at a later time.
When an allergen re-enters the body, the immune system rapidly recognizes it, causing a series of reactions. These reactions often involve blood vessel dilation, and production of many inflammatory substances, including histamine. Histamine produces common allergy symptoms such as itchy and watery eyes. It can also produce sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, scratchy throat, hives, and, shortness of breath. Other less common symptoms are eye irritations, skin problems such as eczema, and even breathing problems like asthma.
When allergy symptoms are not well controlled with over the counter medications, a doctor should be consulted. To help with allergy management one of our doctors will gather a detailed history and complete a thorough examination of the ears, nose, throat, and head. The doctor will also offer advice on proper environmental controls to decrease exposure to allergens. The doctor will also evaluate the sinuses to determine if infection or structural problems (deviated septum, polyps) are causing the symptoms.
In addition, the doctor may suggest testing to find the specific allergen that is causing discomfort. In some cases subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops under the tongue), or allergy tablets may be recommended. Immunotherapy is a method of treating allergies by desensitizing individuals to allergens over time, in many cases with the goal that they be cured of their allergies. ENT doctors are specially trained in the diagnosis and management of allergies.