Allergies arise from an increased sensitivity to certain things in the environment. These can be “inhalants” (pollens) or “foods”. Symptoms range from mild to severe and usually consist of nasal stuffiness, increased/thick mucous, post-nasal drainage, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.
By causing nasal congestion, allergies can also lead to sinus infections and ear problems. Sometimes the symptoms can be subtle. Many people do not realize that nasal allergies can also cause sore throats, coughing, tiredness, stomachaches, headaches, and tenderness in the cheeks and forehead.
Millions of Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. For some people allergy symptoms are present all year long.
South Texas Allergens
South Texas, in particular, is a haven for outdoor allergens. The usual pollen season in San Antonio for trees is during the spring months; for grasses in the summer; and for weeds in the fall of the year. Mold and spores multiply whenever it rains and Mountain Cedar pollen is heaviest during the winter months.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, allergies are usually first treated with medications. Allergy testing may be recommended to check for specific culprits, and can be used to start allergy shots. Allergy shots can work well in patients with severe symptoms or problems that do not respond to medications. Allergy testing can be done with either skin testing or a simple blood test. This is especially helpful for young children. As expected, the best treatment for food allergies is avoidance of that particular food; allergy shots may also be helpful.
Why Otolaryngic Allergy?
Otolaryngic Allergy is a branch of medicine that deals specifically with allergies of the ear, nose, and throat. Otolaryngic Allergists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating disorders of the upper respiratory tract, (ear, nose, and throat, etc.) caused by allergic conditions. Because Otolaryngic Allergists are ENTs/Head and Neck surgeons, they can also efficiently diagnose and treat other non-allergic conditions of the ear, nose and throat.
More than half of all of the problems that ENTs encounter in their patients are caused, either directly or indirectly, by allergies. Our physicians know that allergy symptoms can take on many forms, not just sneezing and watery eyes. Otolaryngic Allergists use methods that have been shown to identify specific allergies and to help patients achieve quick and effective control of their allergies. ENTs are a one-stop source of help for patients suffering from all types of disorders of the head and neck.
Treatment strategies include:
- Patient Education on how to avoid or eliminate allergens through environmental control
- Prescription Medication – antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, cromolyn sodium sprays
_ and anticholinergic nasal sprays
- Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots) for both inhalant and food allergens
We offer personalized services to our allergy patients and begin by taking a detailed history evaluation of our patient’s physical symptoms and living habits. This is followed by a physical examination by one of our physicians. Our allergy department consists of an all-RN staff that has been specially trained in caring for the allergy patient.
A number of methods are in use today to identify specific allergens. However, they all fall into one of two basic types:
- Skin Testing
- Test performed on the patient's blood
Important Medication Instructions
You must NOT take any antihistamines for at least one week before your allergy test. Antihistamines are allergy relief medications and will interfere with the results of your skin testing.
Antihistamines are available over-the-counter and by prescription.
Please notify your ENT physician or allergy nurse if you are taking any steroids, anti-depressants, or high blood pressure medications.
On the day of your allergy test, please:
- Allow at least 1 to 1-1/2 hour(s) for the test.
- Eat breakfast or lunch prior to your testing appointment.
- Wear a comfortable sleeveless or loose knit short-sleeve shirt.
Testing is done on the upper outer arms.
For more information on these and other ENT conditions visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology’s website. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation