Allergies

At Eastern Carolina E-N-T we have an Allergy Department to treat patients with inhalant allergies. The Allergy Department offers testing and treatment following the
American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy guidelines.

What is an Allergy?
Allergy is the body's abnormal response to some foreign substance. The body's immune system recognizes the presence of this foreign substance and starts a reaction to prevent their invasion. In most people, this is not a problem. However, in the person with allergies, the immune system is overactive and identifies normally harmless particles as dangerous, producing an excessive reaction, which includes swelling.

Are Allergies very common?
Yes. According to the literature, it is estimated that 45 million Americans now suffer from some form of allergy. The tendency to develop allergies is genetic. The more allergic your family is, the more likely you are to develop allergies.

What is Hay Fever?
"Hay fever" is really misnamed since it doesn't involve hay or fever. The correct name for this is allergic rhinitis. The most common symptoms include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes. It most frequently occurs during the spring or fall when trees, grasses, and weeds are pollinating.

What are common Symptoms of Allergies?
Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose (allergic rhinitis), itchy nose, itchy or watery eyes (allergic conjunctivitis), asthma, and dermatitis. Other symptoms may include chronic sinus infections, headaches, fatigue, and GI upset.

How can I be tested for Allergies?
After an ear, nose, and throat examination by the E-N-T physician, you may be sent to the Allergy Department for testing and treatment. We have two ways in which to test for allergies, skin testing and RAST testing (specific lgE). Skin testing is just that, allergy testing on the skin. The upper portion of the arm is used. After the allergy history is reviewed, a series of skin injections is performed to identify the offending allergens. This is not usually painful. RAST testing (specific lgE) is preferred for patients who cannot discontinue certain medications which may interfere with skin testing, the elderly, and the young.

What are my treatment options for allergies?
After the allergy testing is completed, and allergies have been identified, the Allergy Department staff may offer counseling concerning avoidance, environmental control of the allergens, medications, and desensitization (immunotherapy).

What is allergy immunotherapy and how does it work?
Immunotherapy is a long term treatment plan that utilizes the body's immune system to reduce the symptoms of allergy. Injections help build up your immunity to the allergens that give you symptoms. Over 80% of patients who receive allergy shots experience significant improvement or complete relief of their symptoms. The average time frame that an allergic patient takes allergy injections is 3 to 5 years.

Exposure Example

Sensitization

Re-Exposure/Histamine Release

Allergic Response

The Allergy Team:

Lynn Unruh, RN, BSN
Kathy McLawhorn, BSMT
Teresa Nguyen, LPN

Links for more information:

Focus On Allergies-Asthma

 
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