Allergic reactions are not limited to pollen from outdoors or pet dander indoors. Many people suffer from allergies to foods, medications, and other aspects of their environments. An allergist is a special type of doctor that has the training and experience to diagnose and treat allergy-related illnesses. This medical specialist has the skills and equipment required to identify an allergic condition. Years of study regarding different types of allergies and access to tests that reveal allergic triggers enable this professional to quickly pinpoint the problem and prescribe the most effective course of treatment.
An easy way to get the correct initial diagnosis is to visit an allergist. After just one visit, patients may be on their way to feeling better than they have in years. Treatment may involve avoiding the allergy trigger or taking medication. lf a person is allergic to an environmental substance like poren, avoidance is usuaily not possible, so medication wiil be required, particularly during seasons in which pollen is commonly present in the air. An allergy doctor may recommend trying several medicines under medical supervision to determine which is most effective.
There are several types of tests that he can perform to help gain information about your body and how it reacts to allergens. lf you suffer from allergic reactions but are unable to pinpoint the source, your doctor may perform a skin test to help with a diagnosis. During a skin test, your skin is pricked by a very small needle containing possible allergens (one allergen per needle). lf your skin reacts with a welt, then there is a good chance that you are allergic to that allergen. For instance, your doctor may prick your skin with allergens such as dust mites, milk, peanuts, and eggs. lf you react to any of these, your skin will show it by swelling slightly (about the size of a mosquito bite) and itch. This allows the allergist to better assist you in coming up with a plan to avoid the allergen and treat reactions. Some allergies affect lung (pulmonary) function and breathing. You may have asthma or asthma-like symptoms that are triggered by allergens. Tests are available that will allow your allergist to create a plan to alleviate your symptoms and get you on a path to better health. ltchy eyes, a runny nose, and frequent sneezing are indicators of allergies. More than half of the U.S. population has tested positive for at least one allergen. Allergies are among the most common chronic diseases in the country and are estimated to cost businesses and the U.S. health care system $7.9 billion each year.
One thing to remember about allergies is that often the best plan of attack is the process of elimination. lf tests are not definitive, you may need to keep trying until you find the culprit. While not the most streamlined method of diagnosis, it is likely the only way to find out what plagues your body. lt is important to explicitly follow the instructions of your allergist to get the best results possible. He will work to help you as much as possible, but you have to be a willing and active participant in the process.
ln some cases, it can be a bit difficult to get an appointment with this type of doctor. Since all insurance plans vary, you need to find out whether or not you need a referral. Once you can schedule the appointment, be sure to let the receptionist know how acute your symptoms are. Patients that are in acute distress are sometimes given a priority appointment to alleviate their symptoms. lt never hurts to call and see if there is anything available sooner rather than later. An allergist can help relieve symptoms so people spend less time inside sneezing and blowing their noses and more time enjoying each day. Self-treatment for allergies is usually not effective because many over-the-counter medications do not treat moderate to serious cases. Some people mistake allergies for a cold and use the wrong medication. A visit to a general health care practitioner may not reveal the mistaken diagnosis because most general physicians are not very experienced with allergies. The medical professional may identify that a cold is not to blame for the symptoms but may not be able to render an accurate diagnosis. There are many types of allergic diseases, ranging from common allergic rhinitis and sinusitis to eczema, asthma, hives, and swelling of the skin or mucous membranes. Some people are allergic to airborne substances, while others have allergies to certain foods, antibiotics, insects, or biological materials. ldentifying what is triggering the allergic reaction is the first step in treatment.
An allergist will conduct surface and intradermal skin testing, patch testing, and pulmonary function testing to determine allergy causes. The sooner the sufferer consults with this medical professional, the sooner treatment can begin. Living a life free of allergies due to proper diagnosis is better than suffering with them for years as a result of improper treatment.
An immunologist is commonly referred to as an allergist. This is a physician specially trained to diagnose, treat and manage allergies, asthma and immunologic disorders including primary immunodeficiency disorders. Allergist/immunologists are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma and other diseases of the immune system. Becoming an allergist/immunologist requires at least an additional nine years of training beyond a bachelor’s degree. After completing medical school and graduating with a medical degree, physicians undergo three years of training in internal medicine or pediatrics and pass the exam of either the American Board of lnternal Medicine (ABIM) or the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP). lnternists and pediatricians interested in becoming an allergist/immunologist have at least an additional two years of study, called a fellowship, in an allergy/immunology training program.
Allergist/immunologists listed as ABAI-certified have successfully passed the certifying examination of the American Board of Allergy and lmmunology (ABAI). Many of these individuals have achieved the rank of Fellow within the AAAAI. When you see “FAAAAI” alongside the designation of “MD”, you know that your allergist/immunologist has met many of the highest standards in the field.
To be board certified, they must pass an examination and regularly attend continuing medical education programs in allergy and immunology. An allergist’s approach is personal. Your allergist typically asks about your medical history, does a physical examination and performs specific allergy and/or breathing tests. The results guide a personalized treatment plan which typically includes measures to avoid or eliminate triggers, recommendations for medications and education to help you take an active role in treating your disease. Many people with untreated allergic symptoms aren’t aware of how much better they can feel once their symptoms are properly diagnosed and managed by an aIlergist/immunologist.
CAUSES OF ALLERGIES
Allergies are the result of a chain reaction that starts in the immune system. Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called lmmunoglobulin E (lgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction. These conditions range from the very common to the very rare, spanning all ages and encompassing various organ systems.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a skin allergy causing a red, dry, itchy rash on the face, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. Atopic dermatitis is treatable but not curable. Urticaria (hives) are red, itchy, swollen areas of the skin that can range in size and appear anywhere on your body and seem to move around. Angioedema is a swelling of the deeper layers of the skin such as the eyelids, tongue or lips. An allergist can determine which allergic skin condition you have and help you take steps to treat it. As of today, there is still known cure for Eczema. However, there are numerous different types of treatments for Eczema which aim to maintain the breakout, reduce swelling or inflammation, and relieve itching or discomfort.
Eczema breakouts are frequently treated by using a corticosteroid medication. ln most cases, the medication is in the form of an ointment, lotion, or cream. These types of medications do not cure Eczema breakouts but they are shown to tause an extreme improvement in the breakout. Corticosteroid medications work by reducing redness, relieving itching, and repressing other symptoms resultant of the Eczema.
There are various side effects of using corticosteroid medications to treat Eczema breakouts. lf an individual uses the corticosteroid medications for an extended period of time, the chances of these side effects are likely to increase. Most commonly, an individual’s skin will become thin or irritated if an individual uses the corticosteroid medication too long. Doctors normally prescribe a low dose of steroids to the individual to decrease this effect. These medications can cause cataracts when used on the face if the medication is used near the eye area. You may develop a fungalor bacterialinfection if you do not use antibiotics or antifungal prescriptions in conjunction with your corticosteroid medication.
lmmunomodulators were created to treat Eczema after corticosteroid treatments. lmmunomodulators were developed to suppress the immune system where the Eczema breakout is located. The United States Food and Drug Administration has posted a health advisory about using lmmunomodulators because there is a possibility of developing cancer of the lymph nodes or skin cancer.
Antibiotics are also used to treat Eczema. Some cases of Eczema become severe and develop cracks in the skin. Cracks in the skin allow bacteria to easily enter the body of the individual. lndividuals who scratch their Eczema when it itches also cause infection, which can spread throughout the body. Antibiotics are used to treat these types of conditions related to Eczema. lmmunosuppressant is a treatment for Eczema. Doctors use immunosuppressants when an individual with Eczema does not respond well to other forms or methods of treatments. lmmunosuppressants are used to weaken the immune system, which sometimes causes dramatic improvements in the condition of the individuals Eczema. lndividuals who undergo immunosuppressants are required to have frequent blood screenings and be checked by their doctor on a regular basis.
Anti-itch medications or ointments are commonly recommended by physicians when an individual has Eczema. This is because most types of Eczema cause the individualto become itchy. Scratching the Eczema can cause infection, so:to avoid itching doctors prescribe anti-itch medications.
Doctors also urge individuals to maintain a daily moisturizing routine to avoid dry skin. This is because Eczema can worsen when the individual’s skin. beconles dry. Keeping the skin moisturized is one of the most effective treatments an individual can perform themselves to provide relief and to help the area heal.
Doctors encourage individuals to avoid using harsh soaps, chemicals, and detergents. lndividuals should replace these harsh items with moisturizing soaps, allergen controlled detergents, and chemicals that are less harsh on the skin. These harsh items can strip the natural oils off of the individual’s skin and cause the skin to become severely dry or irritated. lndividuals should take regular baths in an oatmeal formula. lndividuals who suffer from Eczema should also avoid using powders and perfume because these products also cause the skin to become dry.
Asthma is an allergic disease that causes frequent episodes of wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness. lt is common for people with asthma to also suffer from allergies, so your allergist may conduct thorough allergy and breathing tests to find the causes of your asthma. Studies have shown that care by an allergist can decrease the number of asthma flare-ups and the need for emergency care. You and your allergist can work together to ensure that your asthma is well-managed so that you can participate in normal activities.
Allergists are helpful in treating recurring slnus and ear infections. People with asthma are more prone to sinus infections (rhinosinusitis) which can, in turn, make asthma worse. Sinus infections are also common in people with allergic rhinitis. Although young children are expected to have more ear infections, it is important to monitor children with very frequent or severe infections. This is because the most serious immunodeficiencies us.ually become apparent during the first years of life.
lf you have a food allergy, even a tiny amount of the food you’re allergic to may cause a reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction are generally seen on the skin or involve the stomach and intestines. These include swelling, hives, eczema (itchy, red scaly rash), vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cqamping or a stomach ache. Allergy tests performed by an allergist can determine which foods, if any, are triggering the symptoms.
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that happens very quickly. Without immediate treatment, an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) and expert care, anaphylaxis can be fatal. Follow-up care by an allergist is essential. Many people don’t realize they have an allergy until they suffer an anaphylactic reaction. lt is usually caused by foods, medicine, latex or insects, and at times without an obvious cause. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include hives, flushing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, throat tightness, nausea and dizziness or faintness.