Allergies occur when your body has an abnormal immune reaction to substances that would not normally cause a reaction in most individuals. If you suffer from allergies, your immune system produces antibodies that identify a particular allergen as harmful, and when you come into contact with that allergen, your immune system’s reaction releases histamines that produce symptoms. Depending on the cause of the allergic reaction, allergy symptoms can involve your sinuses, airways, nasal passages, skin, and digestive system.
Common allergens include dust mites, weed or grass pollen, pet dander, mold, cockroaches, insect stings and a variety of foods. For some, allergies can simply be a mild, seasonal nuisance, but for others they can be very serious and lead to anaphylaxis or other chronic conditions such as sinusitis and asthma.
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Skin rash
- Runny nose
- Nausea and diarrhea
If you’re constantly sneezing around cats, it’s likely that you’re allergic to pet dander. However, some allergies are not as easy to diagnose as others. At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, our allergists will ask questions and run specific tests to determine your allergy trigger. We will then determine a treatment plan that may include medications, immunotherapy (allergy shots), and recommendations for avoiding allergens in your environment.
Allergy Evaluations include:
- Skin Prick Test
- Skin Intradermal Test
- Patch Test
- Drug Tests
- Drug Challenges
- Insect Allergy Test
- Food Test & Desensitization
- Food Challenges
- Skin Biopsies
Common allergies and related issues that we help treat and prevent include:
Anaphylaxis –Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. Anaphylaxis symptoms include, loss of consciousness, a drop in blood pressure, severe shortness of breath, or skin rash. The most common anaphylactic reactions are to food, medications, insect stings, and latex. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, so if you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing anaphylaxis, call 911 or head to the emergency room right away.
Allergic Rhinitis – Allergic rhinitis is commonly referred to as hay fever or nasal allergies. Rhinitis occurs when a person breathes in allergens and symptoms typically include nasal itching and stuffiness, sneezing, clear nasal discharge, and itching of the ears or roof of mouth.
Food Allergy – Food allergies are very common among young children and are often outgrown. Many people confuse food intolerances with food allergies, but they are not one and the same. It’s important for people with true food allergies to find out the cause and take steps to prevent allergic reactions, because they can be very serious. Foods that most commonly cause food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts), shellfish, milk and eggs. Common food allergy reactions can include itching or swelling of the lips or tongue, tightness of the throat with hoarseness, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
Drug Allergy – The most common drug allergy is penicillin but all antibiotics can cause reactions. Reactions can range from very mild to life-threatening (anaphylaxis). Less severe symptoms of a drug allergy include, hives, skin rash, itching of the skin or eyes, congestion, swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat, and wheezing. More severe reactions can cause, dizziness, fainting, confusion, difficulty breathing, nausea, diarrhea, and rapid pulse or anaphylaxis.
The most common drug allergy is penicillin. Other antibiotics similar to penicillin can also trigger allergic reactions.
Insect Allergy– Insect allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to the venom from an insect sting. Insect allergies can cause local swelling, redness, and pain at the site of the insect sting, and for those with severe insect allergies, it may lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Insects that sting include yellow jackets, bees, hornets, wasps, and fire ants. If you suspect you or your child may have a venom allergy, it’s very important to identify the insect and acquire the proper medication to have on hand in case of an emergency.
Sinus Disease – Also know as sinusitis, is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses that can cause many of the same symptoms as a bad cold. Symptoms include facial pain and pressure, nasal stuffiness, nasal discharge, loss of smell, cough and congestion. Unlike colds, sinusitis is often caused by a bacterial infection and may require treatment with antibiotics. Different types of sinusitis include acute sinusitis, subacute sinusitis, chronic sinusitis and recurrent sinusitis.
Allergic Skin Disorders such as Hives, Contact Dermatitis, Allergic Rashes– Skin allergies are common and most people will experience them at one point in their life. A variety of allergens can cause skin reactions, so it’s necessary to identify what you’re allergic to in order to prevent allergic skin disorders. Common reactions to skin allergens include, watery, itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, hives, feeling sick or tired.
Latex Sensitivity – Latex allergies occur when your body treats latex as an allergen. Natural rubber latex is commonly found in rubber gloves, condoms, balloons, rubber bands and toys. Symptoms can range from mild such as dermatitis, eczema, and sneezing, to wheezing, shortness of breath and even anaphylaxis.
If you think you or your child may be experiencing allergy symptoms, schedule an appointment to meet with a board-certified allergist. An allergist will identify your allergens and determine the severity of your allergies, as well as provide the necessary education and medication. At Carolina Asthma and Allergy Center, we work closely with our patients to develop and an allergy treatment plan that will keep them safe and provide a better quality of life.