Allergy FAQs

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Allergy Testing and Treatment FAQs

What is an Allergy?

Allergy is a condition in which the immune system of the affected person reacts to something that is either eaten, touched or inhaled that doesn't affect most other people. The patient's immune system reacts to that substance as if it were an "enemy invader" (like a virus). This reaction leads to symptoms that often adversely affect the patient's work, play, rest and overall quality of life.

Allergens Cause Allergies

An allergen is any substance that triggers an allergic reaction. Common allergens include pollen (grasses, trees, weeds), dust, and mold.

How Common are Allergies?

Allergies are among the most common health problems on the US affecting 1 in 4 people. Allergies can be inherited. Studies show if one of your parents had allergies, you have a 50% chance of developing allergies. If both of your parents were allergic, your chance of developing allergies is as high as 80%.

Allergy Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal itching and rubbing
  • Nasal congestion and stuffiness
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy/watery eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Crease across the bridge of the nose
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Chronic cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Asthma
  • Mouth breathing
  • Decreased/lost sense of smell/taste
  • Nosebleeds
  • Ear infections
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Chronic fatigue

Can an Allergy be Outgrown?

You can develop an allergy at any point in your life. You may outgrow allergies or your allergies may affect you differently as you age. Some experts believe that tolerance to allergens may develop as a person is exposed to very low levels of the allergen over time. This is similar to the way allergy shots work to decrease allergic response.

How Do We Make the Diagnosis?

The initial diagnosis of allergy is made by history and physical examination. Definitive diagnosis is confirmed by tests that identify the specific offending allergens. These tests are known as "allergy testing" and can be accomplished either by skin testing or by blood testing. The type of testing chosen is individualized for each specific patient.

Who Should Treat My Allergies?

A skilled, professional allergist is able to diagnose and treat disorders of the the respiratory tract (ear, nose, throat, lungs) caused by allergic conditions. Because an Otolaryngic Allergist is an allergist as well as an ear, nose, and throat surgeon and specialist (ENT), other non-allergic diseases of the upper respiratory tract (deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, chronic sinusitis, middle ear fluid, etc) can also be diagnosed and treated. Half of the problems an ENT doctor treats are caused by allergy. Chronic nasal congestion and post nasal drip, seasonal or constant, are often allergic and may  be complicated by chronic sinusitis and middle ear disease. Hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, weeping ear canals, and chronic sore throats may also be due to allergy. The ENT Doctor who is trained in Otolaryngic allergy is able to follow the patient's progress with specialized examinations and medical and surgical treatment, such as polyp removal, placement or ear tubes, straightening of the nasal septum, and treatment of sinus infections.

American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy

The American Academy of Otolaryngc Allergy (AAOA) is a group of specialty physicians dedicated to the quality care of patients with allergies of the ear, nose and throat. Members of the AAOA may attain the designation of Fellow (FAAOA) by meeting certain requirements including passing a detailed written and oral examination coveting the practice of Otolaryngic Allergy. Dr. Callahan has been a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy since 2012. Visit the AAOA website.