Allergies (Environmental)



Upload: September 29, 2015

Allergies of the ear, nose and throat are extremely common and millions of Americans suffer from seasonal or perennial (year round) allergies.

An allergic reaction occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to a normally harmless substance. The source of this substance, called an allergen, may be from pollen, mold, dust mites, or pet dander among others. Symptoms occur when allergens come in contact with eyes, the lining of the nose and lungs. Patients suffering from “hay fever” or allergic rhinitis may have itchy, watery eyes, itchy ears, sneezing fits, nasal discharge, and nasal congestion. However, other less known symptoms such as headache, fatigue, recurrent or chronic sinus infections, and dizziness may occur as well. Frequently, patients with allergic rhinitis also suffer from asthma. Environmental allergies contribute significantly to poorer quality of life with more days missed from family and work activities.

Ear, nose and throat allergies are diagnosed by history, physical exam, and skin or blood allergy testing. Accepted methods of allergy treatment include avoidance, medicines, and immunotherapy. Avoidance of a known allergen is the most basic form of allergy therapy. Unfortunately, avoidance alone may not always be effective and frequently difficult to adhere to. Examples of avoidance measures include, but are not limited to: allergen-proof pillow and mattress covers to reduce exposure to dust mites, not letting pets into your bedroom if you are allergic to pet dander, or avoidance of outdoor activities during pollen season if tree, weed, or grass pollen is the offending agent.

There are many medications on the market that alleviate environmental allergy symptoms. These include:

  • Antihistamines (Claritin, Clarinex, Zyrtec, Allegra, Benadryl, etc.)
  • Leukotriene inhibitors (Singulair)
  • Steroid nasal sprays (Flonase, Nasonex, Nasacort AQ, Veramyst)
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays (Astelin, Patanase, Astepro)
  • Decongestants (Sudafed, Afrin, Neosynephrine – these should not be used on a regular basis)

Your physician may help you with an appropriate medicine regimen as well as guide you and advise you regarding potential side effects of these medicines, many of which are over-the-counter.

When avoidance or medicines are not effective or acceptable, allergy shots or sublingual drops (known as immunotherapy) is an effective and safe method of treatment. Allergy shots introduce a small amount of an allergen into the body. Each week the amount of allergen is gradually increased, so that the body gets used to the presence of this allergen and no longer reacts to it as an offending agent. Sublingual drops, a needle-free allergy treatment with allergen drops placed under the tongue, is also available. In summary, immunotherapy can actually downgrade or eliminate the overactive response that the body has to an allergen. Allergy immunotherapy may not be safe for patients with unstable asthma or those on certain blood pressure medications. Ask one of our physicians about your treatment options.

Health care providers at Coastal Ear, Nose and Throat are now offering state-of-the-art allergy testing and treatment. Patients may choose between traditional allergy shots or needle-free sublingual immunotherapy that has been used in Europe for years and is gaining wider acceptance in the United States. Services are provided for both adults and children by qualified health care providers. Our physicians are certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and are trained to treat allergy patients in accordance with the most recent guidelines set by the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy.

Our allergy program staff is knowledgeable, well trained, friendly and compassionate. Feel free to call us at 732-780-7855, ext. 138 and ask questions about our allergy program or make an appointment with one of our physicians.

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If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us today at: 732-280-7855 ext. 138