Allergies are reactions of the immune system to substances that, in most people, cause no symptoms.
Do you ever wonder why people develop allergies?
Have you tried countless over-the-counter allergy products only to find out that your allergy symptoms persist? Wondering what the most common types of allergens are?
Our ENT allergy doctors in Lawrenceville, Johns Creek (Suwanee), and Dacula (Hamilton Mill) answer your most commonly asked questions regarding allergies.
Why Do People Develop Allergies?
What are Allergy Symptoms?
The immune system is a powerful factor when it comes to allergies. When a person comes in contact with specific allergic substances, their immune system reacts, and that is when symptoms transpire. In fact, the immune system produces specific antibodies capable of recognizing the same allergic substances in the future.
When the antibodies keep coming in contact with allergic substances, your allergy symptoms will persist. Certain reactions will also become evident, including:
- blood vessel dilation
- tissue destruction
- production of inflammatory substances (i.e., histamine, etc.)
Histamine is the culprit for the most common allergy symptoms, including:
- watery eyes
- itchy eyes
- scratchy throat
- nasal and sinus congestion
- shortness of breath
- balance disturbances
- skin irritations (i.e., eczema)
- respiratory problems (i.e., asthma)
It is a known fact that millions of Americans suffer from nasal allergies. Nasal allergies are known as hay fever. Symptoms typically transpire from being near fragrant flowers, trees, grasses, and shrubs. However, fragrant flowers are not the cause of hay fever.
Our ear, nose, and throat specialists and allergists in Lawrenceville and Johns Creek, GA, can determine the underlying causes for your allergies. We can set up a management plan to improve your daily life.
What are the Most Common Types of Allergens?
- animal dander
- drugs/medications (i.e., penicillin)
- environmental pollutants
People can experience pollen allergies to several types of grass, bushes, shrubs, and trees.
- In early spring, allergy sufferers can be allergic to certain types of trees, including birch, maple, elm, beech, walnut, oak, poplar, ash, sycamore, pecan, cypress, hickory, cottonwood, and alder.
- In late spring, allergy sufferers can be allergic to certain types of grass, including red top, timothy, orchard, Johnson, some types of bluegrasses, sweet vernal, and Bermuda.
- It is important to note that flowering plants and shrubs typically do not cause allergy symptoms.
Unfortunately, certain household allergies can be present all year long. That is not good news for allergy sufferers. Symptoms can often worsen in winter since windows are typically closed, and most houses are poorly ventilated.
The most common types of household allergens include:
- pet danders
- certain foods
Mold spores can also be found in homes, especially in bathrooms and poorly ventilated areas. They are the culprit for many allergy symptoms. Molds are typically present all year long, as they can grow indoors and outdoors, as well.
- Outdoor molds include dead leaves and farming areas.
- Indoor mold growth can be found in or on indoor houseplants, bathrooms, old books, damp areas, and certain foods.
Treatment Options for Allergies
Allergy symptoms often make you irritable and unmotivated to do much of anything. Even though allergies are rarely ever life-threatening, they can cause:
- missed workdays
- poor school performance
- decreased work efficiency
- poor quality of life
Millions of dollars are spent every year on allergy prescriptions and medications. To best control symptoms, multiple approaches should be used simultaneously.
Such treatments and approaches include:
- allergy shots (called subcutaneous immunotherapy)
- allergy drops (called sublingual immunotherapy)
- minimizing exposure to allergens
- medications (i.e., antihistamines, steroid sprays, nasal decongestant sprays, saline sprays, and cortisone)
- over-the-counter medications (be careful as some may cause drowsiness)
Immunotherapy (allergy shots or allergy drops) is an excellent method to treat allergies. The drops or shots desensitize patients to the allergens over a period of time. The goal of immunotherapy is to cure the patient of allergies.
Should You Visit an ENT Doctor for Your Allergy Treatment?
If you have tried several over-the-counter medications and they don’t work, you should call our ENT office. Our ENT doctors will perform a thorough ear, nose, and throat examination, review your symptoms with you, and review your health history.
- We can help determine which treatment methods are best for you.
- We can advise on specific environmental controls and determine if other health problems contribute to your symptoms (i.e., infection, deviated septum, polyps, etc.).
- If needed, our ENT doctors may recommend allergy testing to pinpoint the allergens that cause problems in your life.
Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to the Most Common Allergens
There are many ways that you could decrease your exposure to specific allergens. Please feel free to discuss these tips with our ENT doctors at your next appointment if needed.
- If you are doing yardwork (mowing the grass, gardening, etc.), or cleaning indoors, wear a pollen mask. You can buy one at your local drugstore.
- If you have a pet who goes outside, be sure to wipe down their paws and fur before coming into the house. They can easily drag in a lot of outdoor allergens.
- At home and in the car, be sure to keep your windows and doors closed during heavy/high pollen seasons.
- Get rid of any sources of mildew or mold in your home.
- Avoid bringing your pet into your bedroom or common living areas if you have pet allergies.
- If you have an allergic reaction, be sure to talk to your ENT doctor about hay fever and allergy symptoms.
- In your home, be sure to change your air filters regularly in the heating and air conditioning systems, as well as vacuum cleaners. You may need to install a HEPA filter for your bedroom and other common living areas.
- Consider installing an air purifier in your home.
- Try using over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants. Follow the directions on the package. However, it is always best to seek medical help from an ENT doctor to receive the quickest, most effective treatment.
- Try using saline nasal rinses daily. Nasal rinses help cleanse your sinuses and your nose, getting rid of allergens stuck inside.
- You should change your woolen blankets, woolen clothing, and feather pillows to cotton or synthetic materials.
- If possible, tilt the head of your bed upward so that your head is elevated when sleeping. This will help to relieve nasal congestion.
What Should You Do Now?
Call our ENT office today for professional, effective allergy care for adults and pediatrics (kids) if you are suffering from allergy symptoms. We have convenient office locations in Johns Creek (Suwanee), Dacula (Hamilton Mill), and Lawrenceville, GA.
We will determine the right course of treatment for allergy services so you can begin experiencing a symptom-free lifestyle once again!