Many people realize they have some degree of “allergies” but unless the symptoms are severe, most don’t think about how allergic reactions may be affecting their health beyond itchy eyes and a runny nose. If you have mild allergies, it really might not be worth doing much more than taking antihistamines from time to time. But when your immune system is constantly reacting to the wrong things, it can’t protect you from the things it should, like infection. If you have multiple allergies to pollens or animals, you might consider getting allergy shots to gradually make your immune system tolerant to these exposures. We provide allergy testing (we recommend skin prick testing, but can also do blood testing) and immunotherapy right in our clinic.
Even if allergy shots are not something you think you would do, getting tested to figure out which factors are causing your symptoms can be very helpful in controlling those symptoms. For example, an allergy to dust mites can make you stuffy through the night and into the morning, and disrupt your sleep. Reducing your exposure by getting a HEPA air filter, washing your sheets in hot water more often, and maybe getting hypo-allergenic pillow and mattress covers can really cut down on your symptoms, and consequently the drag this puts on your health. Knowing what we need to protect you from is a good place to start. We can also prescribe medications and recommend supplements that will help decrease your symptoms or your reactivity to allergies.
Surprisingly, testing you for seasonal allergies can also help us figure out which foods you might be reacting to. Especially during your “allergy season,” eating foods that cause a cross reaction with the pollen that bothers you can cause you food allergy symptoms. For instance, many people who are allergic to grass may react to eating fresh tomatoes or oranges. This is often called Oral Allergy Syndrome or Pollen Allergy Syndrome, but it can cause symptoms far beyond itching in the mouth.
Food allergies can be scary and life-threatening. They are often easy to identify…you eat a peanut and your throat closes, or a strawberry and your mouth itches and you break out in hives, or even a drink milk and immediately vomit. Allergy symptoms happen within seconds to minutes, so we can usually pinpoint what food caused the reaction, which differs from a food sensitivity. However, sometimes milder symptoms, like eczema or general itchiness can take longer to present and persist longer. It is very important to completely avoid foods that you have an allergy to, even if you don’t have life-threatening reactions.
Unlike many allergists, we do skin prick testing for the most common allergenic foods and can do this at the same time as testing for environmental allergens. Even though there is unfortunately not immuno-therapy shots for food allergies, we can help you with how to eliminate your food allergies, as some of them can be complicated.