Allergies are a very common disorder in northeast Ohio, affecting as many as 40% of children and 20% of adults. In recent years, allergy has become far more common than it was in the past. The exact reason why allergies are more common today is not known for sure, but evidence points towards an increase in pollution and the widespread use of antibiotics as possible causes for this phenomenon.
What is Hay Fever
One of the most common allergic disorders is allergic rhinitis. This is often referred to as “hay fever” although hay (timothy grass) is not always the underlying cause and fever is not a symptom. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes. These symptoms can be seasonal or perennial depending on what the underlying trigger is. Other allergic disorders include asthma, rashes or hives (urticaria), and food sensitivities. The specific irritant that causes an allergic reaction is called an antigen. Some of the more common antigens are: foods, animal dander, dust, mold, and grass, tree, or weed pollens. Less common antigens might also include insect venoms, drugs, and skin contactants such as nickel or latex.
Local Allergy Testing
Often when a patient presents to our office with an allergic disorder, we will recommend or perform allergy testing. This can be done by applying various antigens on the patient’s skin (scratch testing) or by ordering blood tests (RAST testing). Once the offending antigens are identified, treatment recommendations can be made. One of the easiest ways to treat allergies is to simply avoid the antigen that is causing the allergic reaction. This is not always practical, however, especially if the causative antigen is a mold, pollen, beloved pet, or something else that cannot be eliminated from the living environment. If avoidance is impractical, the next step is medication. Some patients can get relief by taking over-the-counter non-sedating antihistamines. Some require prescription-strength medications such as steroids or antihistamine nasal sprays. If medication is not helpful, allergy desensitization shots can be administered. These shots are given regularly over a period of several years in order to build up a tolerance to the antigen and essentially cure or eliminate the allergic condition.
At Ohio Head and Neck Surgeons, we are able to provide all of the necessary services for allergy testing and treatment. Our Canton Allergy Lab has been in operation since 1974. Our doctors and nurses have extensive expertise in treating allergies and have helped countless numbers of patients with their allergy problems. Please do not hesitate to call and inquire further if you have a need for any of our services.