ENT Specialists offers comprehensive testing and treatment for allergic disease affecting the nose and sinuses [Allergic Rhinitis].
ALLERGIC RHINITIS describes a condition where symptoms are caused by sensitivity to “allergens” such as dust, mold, pollen, weeds, trees, pets, etc. Common symptoms include: runny nose, nasal obstruction, itchy eyes and throat, sneezing, post-nasal drip, recurrent “colds” or sinus infections.
Allergic rhinitis happens when pollens, animal dander, dust, mold spores, etc., come into contact with the lining of the nose, eyes, or throat. In allergic patients, the immune system is overactive and identifies normally harmless particles as dangerous, producing an excessive reaction that actually causes inflammation. This is known as allergy and the substances causing it are allergens.
Patients with allergic rhinitis not only suffer from the direct symptoms of allergy itself, but are also prone to recurrent sinus infections, chronic sinusitis, post nasal drip, throat irritation, and even ear problems. Identification of allergy, and subsequent treatment, is important in the short and long term management of symptoms. At ENT Specialists, our Allergy Nurses administer testing and offer counseling on environmental controls and other treatment measures. The most common form of allergy testing is a series of skin injections at very dilute concentrations, and then observing for a reaction that is indicative of allergy. This technique is called MQT [Modified Quantitative Technique], and involves many less shots than used to be given in the past, yet remains very accurate in determining not only what a patient is allergic to, but also how sensitive they are to that allergen.
Treatment for allergies are categorized into ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROLS [for example, elimination of mold in the home, or mattress and pillow case covers for dust mites], MEDICAL THERAPY [for example, oral antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, antihistamine nasal sprays], or DESENSITIZATION [allergy shots or allergy drops, which is the only real “cure” for allergy].
Immunotherapy (or desensitization) is the administration of an antigen solution in order to reduce the allergic response to that substance. An antigen is something that you may be allergic to, such as mold, dust mites, ragweed, pollen, cat dander, to name a few. The results of your allergy tests identify which antigens to which you are allergic and the most effective way to treat your allergy is to undergo “desensitization”. Over time, repeated exposure to the antigen results in a reduced allergic response in your body.
The most common form of desensitization is by giving allergy shots subcutaneously (in the skin), in the office setting. Allergy shots are a time tested, clinically proven treatment for environmental allergies. They are safe, though reactions to the shots occur rarely. Allergy shots work by delivering a slowly increasing dose of physician-prescribed antigen that over time builds the body’s tolerance. Most patients get allergy shots for 3‒5 years or longer.
Allergy drop treatment [Sublingual Immunotherapy or SLIT] works in a similar fashion as shots. The difference is that the drops are placed under the tongue and affect the immune system through very specialized cells found under the tongue. Research shows that sublingual drops are an effective route for long-term desensitization, making it an ideal option for patients who aren’t candidates for shots—patients with moderate to severe asthma, or are taking a type of medication called a “beta-blocker”. Most patients take allergy drops daily for 3-5 years.
Website Link for more information regarding Sublingual drops: www.AllergyChoices.com
American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy: http://www.aaoaf.org/