Q: What Causes Allergies?
Common causes of allergies could be plants, pollen, trees, grass, mold, dust and pet and animal dander. Many people refer to seasonal allergies because they experience many of the symptoms in the spring, summer or fall. For example, in the spring, pollen could be the main culprit. For the summer, it tends to be grasses, and in the fall, weeds and mold wreak havoc on many people.
Q: What Is the Best Way to Determine What Causes an Allergic Reaction?
An ENT or clinician can identify allergies with blood tests or by putting very small amounts of the suspected allergen on the skin to see how it reacts. After a few minutes, the doctor watches for a “wheal and flare” response, which is a little red welt that raises up and becomes itchy. It’s measured, and if it’s a certain size, that indicates there’s an allergy to that specific element.
Q: How Do the Symptoms Differ From a Normal Cold?
With allergies, symptoms vary from sneezing, itchy eyes and runny nose, to feeling tired. Allergies differ from the common cold in that they are not caused by a virus and usually do not cause heavy nasal discharge, body aches, fever or sore throat. Allergy symptoms can also last much longer than a cold, which can be anywhere from three to 14 days.
Q: What Are Some Ways to Treat Allergies?
Depending on the allergy, you can avoid the substance altogether or reduce your exposure to it. But most people take a fairly aggressive medicinal approach, such as using antihistamines, steroid nasal sprays or decongestants. Other treatment options can include sublingual therapy or allergy shots, but we would work with the patient to determine the best option for them.
If you are suffering from allergic rhinitis or experiencing seasonal flare-ups, it might be time to consult with an ENT. To find a doctor, call our free physician referral line at 855-859-5203.