What Should I Expect During An Allergy Test
The purpose of skin tests is to see how your body responds to allergens. If you have an allergic reaction, youll develop a reaction at the site of the test. Rarely patients may have mild allergy symptoms such as itchy skin, watery eyes and congestion. Most symptoms clear up in one to two hours after the test, the redness or wheals may remain for several more hours.
How Do I Know If I Need To See The Allergist Or Ent
ENTs are highly proficient surgeons who specialize in structural disorders of the ears, nose, and throat such as head and neck tumors, facial reconstruction and plastic surgery, chronic sinusitis, deviated septum, hearing impairment, and dizziness/balance problems. Board-certified Allergists optimize control of nasal and sinus problems though nonsurgical means. ENTs and Allergists commonly work together to treat conditions where allergies are causing problems in the ears, nose, sinuses and throat regions. ENTs often refer patients to Allergists when surgery is not indicated. Likewise, Allergists will refer patients to ENTs for surgical options when medications and allergen avoidance are not adequately controlling symptoms.
Diagnosing Your Allergy Issues
What is an allergy?
Allergies are very common, affecting approximately twenty percent of the US population. Allergies are caused by an abnormal hyperactive response of our immune system to a substance found in the environment such as animal dander, plant pollens, molds, dust mites that are harmless to those who are not allergic. Allergies can cause inflammation inside the nose and sinus cavities.
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include nasal stuffiness, runny nose, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. Trapped or stagnant mucus provides an incubator for bacteria, leading to sinus infections. Allergies are responsible for asthma in some patients and may also cause nasal stuffiness, resulting in a strain on the lungs that exacerbates the asthma.
We evaluate your symptoms, employing allergy skin tests or, even nasal endoscopy, and/or blood work if necessary.
Nasal endoscopy Blood work
Diagnosis of allergies first begins with a comprehensive evaluation by one of our ENT specialists including a review of your symptoms and a complete physical examination. When indicated, your doctor may order additional testing such endoscopy, allergy testing, x-rays or CT scan imaging of the sinuses.
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How Does Ablood Test Work
A blood test is used to measure how much of an allergen-specific antibody, called immunoglobulin E , is in your blood. The more allergen specific IgE in your blood, the more likely you are to be allergic. Blood tests are typically used to confirm the results of a skin test they may also be used in lieu of skin tests if a serious allergy makes skin testing unsafe.
What Is Askin Prick Test
A skin prick test is the most common form of allergy testing. This test involves placing a small drop of an allergen extract on your skin. A needle is then used to prick the skin underneath the drop this allows for a small amount of solution to enter just below the surface of the skin. After 15 minutes, any swelling or redness is measured and, depending on the size, is considered a positive reaction.
An intradermal skin test is completed next. An intradermal wheal, or bleb, is injected directly under the top layer of skin. After 15 minutes any reactions are measured and classified as either positive or negative.
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When To See Your Gp
Visit your GP if the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are disrupting your sleep, preventing you carrying out everyday activities, or adversely affecting your performance at work or school.
A diagnosis of allergic rhinitis will usually be based on your symptoms and any possible triggers you may have noticed. If the cause of your condition is uncertain, you may be referred for allergy testing.
Read more about the complications of allergic rhinitis
How Will Allergy Treatment Help My Sinus Infections
Based on your symptoms, a physical examination and the results of your allergy test, your allergy doctor may prescribe immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is the only treatment that has been shown to alter the underlying allergynot just its symptoms.
Immunotherapy is available through sublingual immunotherapy or subcutaneous immunotherapy . Allergy shots have been around longer than allergy drops, which came into use in the mid-1980s. Allergy drops are very popular in Europe in fact, they are prescribed at least as much as shots there.
At AllergyEasy, we prescribe allergy drops, rather than shots, because:
- They are safer than shots.
- They are more convenient than shots.
- They work for populations not typically serviced by allergy shots .
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Are You A Candidate For Allergy Testing
Do you find you spend a lot of time sniffling and sneezing? Do you seem to get a head cold the same time of year every year? While many people mistake their symptoms for a spring cold, it is more likely they have allergies. Allergies cause many of the symptoms people associate with colds. They are also one of the most common sinus infection causes. If you suffer from head colds, congestion, sinus headaches and other ills, allergy testing can help you learn the cause of your symptoms so you can start finding relief.
Colds And Allergies Are The Main Risk Factors For Developing Sinusitis
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses, commonly caused by bacterial infection following a viral infection such as the common cold. Other risk factors for developing sinusitis include untreated allergies, crooked nasal anatomy, smoking, nasal polyps and overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.
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How Is Sinus Infection Diagnosed
Diagnosis depends on symptoms and requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses. Your allergist will look for:
- Discolored nasal discharge
If your sinus infection lasts longer than eight weeks, or if standard antibiotic treatment is not working, a sinus CT scan may help your allergist diagnose the problem. Your allergist may examine your nose or sinus openings. The exam uses a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light at one end that is inserted through the nose. It is not painful. Your allergist may give you a light anesthetic nasal spray to make you more comfortable.
Mucus cultures: If your sinus infection is chronic or has not improved after several rounds of antibiotics, a mucus culture may help to determine what is causing the infection. Most mucus samples are taken from the nose. However, it is sometimes necessary to get mucus directly from the sinuses.
Knowing what kind of bacteria is causing the infection can lead to more effective antibiotic therapy. A fungus could also cause your sinus infection. Confirming the presence of fungus is important. Fungal sinus infection needs to be treated with antifungal agents, rather than antibiotics. In addition, some forms of fungal sinus infection allergic fungal sinus infection, for example do not respond to antifungal agents and often require the use of oral steroids.
What Happens If I Have An Allergy
Depending on the allergy, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of these steps:
- Minimize exposure to allergens: Avoid ones that cause severe reactions, such as latex or certain foods.
- Take daily allergy medications: Antihistamines can prevent or reduce allergic rhinitis and other symptoms.
- Get allergy shots: This type of immunotherapy can decrease the immune systems response to certain allergens like pet dander. You should get allergy shots for three to five years to experience maximum benefit. Allergy shots can be costly, but they often provide long-lasting relief, even after the shot series is completed.
- Have a medical alert card: A card or medical alert jewelry lets others know about your severe allergy. It tells them you could have an anaphylactic response to peanuts, bee stings or other allergens.
- Carry an epinephrine injection: Keep this medicine with you at all times if youre at risk for an anaphylactic allergic reaction.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Allergic reactions can range from annoying congestion to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Allergy tests can identify substances that cause these types of allergic reactions. There are different allergy tests. Your healthcare provider will choose the best test for you based on symptoms and potential allergy triggers. If you have allergies, you can take steps to get symptom relief.
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When To See A Doctor
You dont necessarily have to see your doctor for your allergies. The exception is if youve never been diagnosed with allergies before or if your allergies seem to be getting worse.
You should also see your doctor if your OTC antihistamines arent working. They might recommend prescription medications instead. If your allergies have you particularly congested, they might also prescribe a .
Since sinus infections are caused by viruses, antibiotics dont generally help. However, if your symptoms worsen or last longer than two weeks, you should see your doctor for some relief.
How Do I Know If I Need An Allergy Test
If youre allergic to allergens in the air like dust, pollen or pet dander, you may develop allergic rhinitis. Also known as hay fever, this allergic reaction causes:
Food allergy symptoms typically occur within 30 minutes of food ingestion but may occur up to two hours after ingestion. People with food allergies may experience:
- Skin symptoms such as hives, swelling of the face, lips or tongue, generalized itching.
- Respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest or throat tightness.
- GI symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Cardiovascular symptoms such as pale skin, weak pulse, dizziness or lightheadedness.
A patch test, performed by a dermatologist, is used to diagnose these types of reactions.
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Chronic Rhinosinusitis Without Nasal Polyposis
Fewer studies have examined the relationship between CRSsNP and allergy. In addition, older studies were often not specific, often using the term chronic sinusitis to include both patients with and without polyposis. One study, which specifically looked at patients with CRSsNP, found that patients with ragweed sensitivity had a significantly higher eosinophil count on maxillary sinus lavage during ragweed season than during other times of the year.19 They concluded that pollen exposure leads to sinus inflammation. Other studies have shown that allergic patients were more likely to have abnormal sinus plain film20 or CT imaging.21 These studies suggest that allergic patients may have a higher disease burden when compared to their nonallergic counterparts. However, several other studies demonstrated no association of CRSsNP with allergy. Gelincik et al.22 found that CRS was equally prevalent in patients with allergic and nonallergic rhinitis. Therefore, conflicting data also exists as to whether allergy impacts the development or course of CRSsNP.
Over The Counter Relief
Certain over-the-counter medications may reduce or alleviate your allergy symptoms. When using over-the-counter treatment, it is important to know which drugs affect which symptoms.
Over the counter treatments include:
- Antihistamines Available as an over-the-counter pill or prescription nasal spray, antihistamines block the release of histamine, which is a chemical produced by the body that triggers inflammatory reactions that result in swelling of the nose, congestion, itching, sneezing, and a runny nose.
- Nasal Steroid Sprays Nasal steroid sprays are highly effective at reducing nasal congestion and allergic inflammation. They reduce your bodys inflammatory response and are the preferred treatment for mild allergies.
- Leukotriene Blockers Generally combines with other allergy treatments, leukotriene blockers reduce mucosal inflammation.
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The Risks Of Having Allergy Testing Outside Of Your Ents Office
As mentioned above, there has been a rise in allergy testing. Testing locations are popping up around the country, and those believed to be suffering from sinus conditions are being referred to a testing location instead of visiting with their Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor to receive a full exam.
Without a full exam, the cause of a sinus condition may be missed. Regardless of the results of an allergy test, sinus issues, including chronic nasal congestion and chronic sinusitis, are often caused by structural problems such as nasal polyps, enlarged turbinates, or a deviated septum. These issues will not show up in any allergy test.
Until you undergo a full exam, there is no way to determine if your condition is not caused by an internal structural problem and not allergies. We can offer you a comprehensive sinus and allergy testing and treatment plan that will determine the true cause of your issues and outline how to fix it with our help.
Providing The Most Advanced Level Of Treatment
Arizona Coast Ear Nose & Throat provides among the regions most advanced and highest standard of medical and surgical treatment for allergies, asthma, sinus problems and related conditions. All of our providers are dedicated to employing evidence-based medicine, education and patient-centered care to help patients of all ages breathe easier and feel better. To schedule an appointment, call 319-2006.
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Allergy And Sinus Treatment
Our board-certified otolaryngologist include Dr. Devin M. Cunning, FACS.
Services include allergy relief therapy, allergy desensitization and allergy shots.
We also provide general sinus and nasal treatment including treatment for snoring, correction of cosmetic and functional nasal concerns such as deviated septum repair, treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis and leading-edge care for serious problems such as tumors and cerebrospinal fluid leaks.
Chronic Rhinosinusitis With Nasal Polyposis
Elevated IgE, mast cell degranulation, eosinophilia and a helper Tcell type 2 cytokine profile within the sinonasal mucosa is often seen in CRSwNP.14 These features may be seen in allergic conditions as well. Thus an association between these two entities has frequently been assumed given their pathophysiologic overlap. It would also be expected that nasal polyposis would be more prevalent in patients with allergy and conversely that allergy would be more prevalent in patients with nasal polyposis. However, neither has been definitively demonstrated in the literature.
Most atopic patients do not develop nasal polyposis. A study performed by Caplin et al.15 found that in 3000 atopic patients only 0.5% had nasal polyposis. This prevalence of nasal polyposis is similar to the general population. Whether patients with CRSwNP have a higher prevalence of allergies has also been studied, but conflicting data exists. In support of a higher prevalence of allergies in CRSwNP patients, Munoz del Castillo et al.9 reported increased rates of positive skin prick testing among CRSwNP patients compared to controls. Tan et al.10 also found that the median number of positive SPT was higher in CRSwNP than in CRSsNP or allergic rhinitis patients, yet these results did not reach statistical significance.
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Sinus And Allergy Treatment
Its important to get relief from your sinus conditions and allergies, so you can feel your best. Whether you come to us for a second opinion or an initial diagnosis, well act fast to assess your systems and provide you with a personalized treatment plan.
Allergy testing can help to determine what treatment will be best for you. Depending on your symptoms and diagnosis, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended:
When non-surgical treatment does not help relieve your symptoms, our sinus surgeons will discuss the various surgical options available. Using advanced technologies, most sinus surgery is minimally invasive and highly successful.
Should I Get Retested
Two years between allergy tests is reasonable there are no limitations to the frequency of testing. Skin tests may be more sensitive than blood tests, though both methods are considered accurate for diagnosing allergies. You can talk with your allergist about whether retesting is necessary.
Most importantly, dont give up just because you have negative testing. Speak with your provider about how to potentially address the symptoms you are still having.
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Diagnosing Sinusitis And Allergies
Because colds, allergies and sinusitis symptoms can be so similar, tests are often needed to provide a proper diagnosis. Our skilled, compassionate sinus and allergy specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating both.
Your ENT doctor may conduct the following tests to diagnose sinusitis or allergies:
- Allergy tests, which can identify what you are allergic to:
- A prick/puncture test involves a small, disposable plastic device that gently pokes the surface of your skin and applies a diluted allergen.
- An intradermal test involves a small needle which is used to inject a diluted allergen just beneath the surface of your skin.
- Blood tests, which can identify certain indicators of sinusitis or allergies.
Cleaning Your Nasal Passages
Regularly cleaning your nasal passages with a salt water solution known as nasal douching or irrigation can also help by keeping your nose free of irritants.
You can do this either by using a homemade solution or a solution made with sachets of ingredients bought from a pharmacy.
Small syringes or pots that often look like small horns or teapots are also available to help flush the solution around the inside of your nose.
To make the solution at home, mix half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into a pint of boiled water that’s been left to cool to around body temperature do not attempt to rinse your nose while the water is still hot.
To rinse your nose:
- stand over a sink, cup the palm of one hand and pour a small amount of the solution into it
- sniff the water into one nostril at a time
- repeat this until your nose feels comfortable you may not need to use all of the solution
While you do this, some solution may pass into your throat through the back of your nose. The solution is harmless if swallowed, but try to spit out as much of it as possible.
Nasal irrigation can be carried out as often as necessary, but a fresh solution should be made each time.
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