The word allergy is synonymous with hypersensitivity. Being allergic basically means that your immune system works too well—you react to substances in the environment that don’t bother others. This hypersensitivity can begin at any time in your life, and often follows a heavy exposure to a specific allergen.
Once an allergy begins, your immune system is on heightened alert and sensitivities can spread to other allergic substances or even to chemicals and fragrances. Allergies are an underlying problem for up to half the patients in our clinic.
Allergic substances affect your body primarily by being either inhaled or ingested. Less often they can affect you through your skin, by either simple contact (jewelry or poison ivy) or by injection (an intravenous medication or a bee sting). The upper respiratory tract, particularly the nasal and sinus passages, is the most frequent target for any allergy.
Allergies can cause a myriad of problems, such as:
- nasal congestion
- itchy, watery eyes
- runny nose
- recurring sinus infections
At our clinic, we have many options for treating allergies, from medicine to immunotherapy to surgery. Because we work with ear, nose, and throat issues as well as allergies, we are better at both.
One way to classify allergies is how they come into contact with our immune system. Inhalant allergens are what we commonly think of when we talk of allergies. Ingestant (Food) allergies can also cause a tremendous range of symptoms. Allergens can affect us a from skin contact (Latex) or skin penetration (Stinging Insects).
Although many allergy symptoms concentrate on the nasal and sinus passages, they can also affect any organ system such as the lungs, skin, and the gastrointestinal tract.
Several methods of testing are available to determine a patient's allergies.
How the allergy patient feels is a combination of their exposure to and their sensitivity to specific allergens.