Allergies are one of the most common conditions on the planet. Everyone knows what they are, and many people have at least one of them. In fact, many allergy-sufferers take it as a matter of course and never feel the need to see a doctor about it. But there are some out there whose allergies are a little more serious than a few sniffles during pollen season.
What Are Allergies?
Simply put, allergies are an overreaction by your immune system to something in your environment. While antibodies produced by the immune system are invaluable when it comes to protecting us from dangers, allergies occur when the immune system produces antibodies to innocuous things like animal dander or pollen. In an effort to protect us from the perceived threat, the antibodies trigger reactions ranging from irritations like congestion or rashes all the way up to life-threatening emergencies like anaphylaxis.
Problems Caused by Allergies
The symptoms of allergies vary depending on the type of allergies. Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is normally characterized by sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, and itching or swelling of the mucus membranes around the mouth, nose, and eyes. Contact with allergens like foods or cosmetic products can cause tingling, itching, and skin problems like hives or peeling and flaking skin, while ingesting food or drugs that you’re allergic to can lead to severe swelling, which is particularly dangerous if it occurs in the throat. Extreme reactions to food, insect venom, or medication can even lead to anaphylactic shock, which can be deadly.
For many, allergies can be the main cause of recurring and chronic sinus infections. Dr. Rubinstein will test most of his patients who present with recurring sinus infections. If identified early, before the sinuses become blocked, treatment of allergies can decrease the frequency of infections and prevent to progression to chronic sinusitis and development of nasal polyps. Those whose sinus disease has progressed and need sinus surgery, allergy identification and treatment will often prevent recurrence of their sinus disease and delay the re growth of their nasal polyps.
I recently had allergy shots with Dr. Rubinstein. I have been going to see him for five years. The doctor is great, and the staff is doing a great job. I would recommend him and his office highly. I don’t have any complaints about Dr. Rubinstein. I already recommend two people and they are coming for treatment.
Testing for Allergies
The first step in diagnosing an allergy is taking a detailed medical history that includes all relevant symptoms as well as potential triggers. Once this is done, you will go through testing, which may include skin tests, blood tests, or both.
Skin tests are generally the most common way to test for allergies. During a skin test for allergies, your skin will be pricked in a number of locations. A tiny amount of the proteins that make up a potential allergen will be applied to each spot, with a different allergen used each time. A raised bump forming generally indicates an allergy to the substance applied at that spot.
Blood tests are also used at times to determine allergies. Also known as a RAST, or radioallergosorbent test, this test involves drawing blood and sending it to an outside lab. Once at the lab, the sample will be tested with a variety of possible allergens to see which provoke a reaction.
If a food allergy is suspected, you may also need to conduct an elimination diet, which removes a food from your diet for a period of time before reintroducing to see if it triggers a reaction.
For certain allergies like food or cosmetic ingredients, the most effective treatment is simple avoidance of the allergen. In the case of other allergens like pollen or pet dander that are less easily avoided, over-the-counter or prescribed medications like antihistamines and nasal sprays are a good option.
For patients suffering from more severe allergies that occur for a significant portion of the year and are not easily controlled with other medications, immunotherapy can be a valuable option. Immunotherapy involves regular shots with increasing amounts of the allergen in question in order to build up the patient’s tolerance so that symptoms become milder. In many cases, the symptoms disappear entirely.
Immunotherapy is most successful with allergies such as pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust mites. The schedule of injections will be customized based on your individual needs, but they may be as frequent as twice a week for the first few months before gradually decreasing to once or twice a month for several years. After each injection, you’ll be carefully monitored for a period of time to be sure that severe side effects do not develop. In most cases, the side effects are limited to minor redness or irritation at the injection side that lasts for no more than 8 hours.
Dr. Rubinstein makes allergy testing and immunotherapy convenient and comfortable for his patients. He offers his patients flexible times to come for their shots thru a private entrance and waiting area. Treatments are administered by highly skilled nurse practitioners and nursing staff all supervised by Dr. Rubinstein.