When you have allergies, your immune system reacts to a substance known as an allergen that is typically harmless to most people. This reaction can cause itching, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, cough, and skin rashes. In severe cases, it can also lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. You can avoid allergens, take over-the-counter or prescription medications, or receive immunotherapy to manage allergies. It is also advisable to see your Silver Spring MD allergist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Allergies evaluation and diagnosis typically involve a medical history review, physical examination, and a series of tests. Some of the common tests used for diagnosing allergies are:
- Skin prick test: A small amount of allergen is placed on the skin, and the skin is then pricked to allow the allergen to enter. The skin’s reaction is then observed for signs of an allergic reaction.
- Blood test: This test measures the levels of specific antibodies in the blood that are produced in response to allergens.
- Patch test: A patch containing small amounts of various allergens is applied to the skin and left in place for 48 hours. The reaction of the skin is then observed.
- Nasal challenge test: A small amount of allergen is introduced into the nose, and the reaction is observed.
- Elimination diet: A diet in which a person avoids certain foods for some time and then reintroduces them to see if symptoms return.
It is important to see an allergist for proper evaluation and diagnosis, as self-diagnosis can lead to incorrect treatment and management of allergies.
Types of allergies
There are several types of allergies, including:
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis): A reaction to airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, or pet dander.
- Food allergies: A reaction to certain foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, or wheat.
- Skin allergies: A reaction to substances that come into contacts with the skin, such as nickel, poison ivy, or cosmetics.
- Insect sting allergies: A reaction to bee stings or other insect bites.
- Drug allergies: A reaction to certain medications, such as penicillin or aspirin.
- Latex allergies: A reaction to latex, a material used in many medical and personal care products.
You should see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
Symptoms that interfere with daily activities and quality of life
If your allergy symptoms interfere with your quality of life, it is important to seek medical attention. Early treatment and management of allergies can improve quality of life and prevent more serious reactions from occurring. Don’t hesitate to see a doctor for proper evaluation and treatment if your allergy symptoms affect your daily activities and quality of life.
Persistent symptoms that do not improve
It is important to seek medical attention if you have persistent allergy symptoms that do not improve with over-the-counter medications. An allergist can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment,
Symptoms that are severe or getting worse
Severe allergy symptoms can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Some severe symptoms include:
- Anaphylaxis: This is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction that can cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, lightheadedness, or fainting.
- When you have swelling on the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Rapid pulse or low blood pressure is also a severe symptom.
- Confusion or loss of consciousness
Speak to your Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Maryland allergist if you experience these symptoms.