How Allergy Clinics Determine the Cause and Appropriate Treatment for Your Allergies
Allergy diagnosis and treatment methods are one of the first things immunologists discuss with new patients. This article provides an overview of how an allergy clinic identifies causes,
and determines the best forms of treatment.
It is generally considered normal to feel under the weather a few times per year, especially during the long, harsh winter months. If you catch a flu bug or a cold virus, you usually feel better after a few days of rest, and prescription or over-the-counter medicines. However, if you find yourself continuously fighting respiratory infections, or experiencing abdominal cramping or skin irritations, you might be suffering from undetected allergies. Certain foods, medications, pollen, mold, dust mites and even pet proteins could be the reason you consistently less feel than your best. Visiting an allergy clinic can help you find out the cause of your allergies, and the best treatment options available on the market. Completing your allergy diagnosis may require several trips for testing. When your specific allergy is identified the allergist can immediately get your treatment started.
Your Allergy Clinic Visit
When you visit an allergy clinic, the allergist you see will inquire about your symptoms, and document your stated medical history to look for clues of latent allergic reactions throughout your life. Then, he or she will perform allergy testing on you to uncover any reactions you might have to the most common types of allergens.
Allergy Diagnosis Methods
Skin tests are the most commonly diagnosis method and type of allergy tests. During these tests, the allergist pricks your skin to place common types of allergens under your skin in the effort to get a positive or negative reaction. If you are indeed allergic to one of the substances – such as wheat, pollen or mold – your skin will develop a slight itching or inflammation in response to the allergen. Skin tests are usually painless and yield results within approximately 15-20 minutes.
Allergists also use challenge tests to diagnose allergens. During this type of test, your allergist will have you ingest or inhale a small amount of the suspected allergen to invoke an allergic response. Because of the potentially alarming results of these types of allergy tests, they can only be performed under the direct supervision of the allergist. Allergists can also use blood allergy tests to pinpoint the cause of your allergies.
Types of Allergy Treatments
The types of allergy treatment you receive will depend upon the type of allergy that you have. For example, if you are allergic to pollen, your allergist will most likely prescribe you antihistamines. These types of allergy treatments block the histamines, or chemical responses to the allergens that arise in your body when you ingest or inhale an allergen. In addition to antihistamines, your doctor might also prescribe you decongestants to help you better manage your symptoms.
You might not respond well to prescription or over-the-counter allergy treatments. You might also find out that you are severely allergic to a beloved pet, or to a type of pollen that is very common in your area. In these cases, your allergist might recommend that you get allergy shots. Also called immunotherapy, allergy shots contain tiny amounts of the allergen that causes your symptoms. The theory behind the allergy shots is that they will help your body adapt to the allergen so that, over time, you get used to the allergen that plagues you with consistent, unpleasant symptoms. It is important to note that immunotherapy does not cure your allergies, but rather helps your body live harmoniously with the offending allergen throughout the rest of your life.