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Can Allergies Be Cured?

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Samantha Griffin, MSN, NP-C
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Samantha Griffin, MSN, NP-C

Many times when we receive a diagnosis we are given medications which can help our body heal and, with time, we are sometimes cured. Yet allergy medications work only for symptom control.

This may have you wondering, are allergies curable? Is there a treatment you’re missing?

Why Are Allergies so Hard to Cure?

Why is it that allergies keep recurring year after year?  It all has to do with the way your body works and acts during an allergic attack. Your body’s immune system goes into overdrive when it comes into contact with an allergen and will make a certain protein known as immunoglobin E (IgE).

If you’re allergic to peanuts, for instance, you have a peanut IgE. If it’s pet dander, then it’s a dander IgE and so forth.

When your body’s immune system makes these IgEs, they link to mast cells. Normally, mast cells safeguard the body from disease. With an IgE attached, histamine comes from the mast cell. That leads to—you guessed it—all those unpleasant physical reactions you have from an allergen.

The more often this happens, the more likely that this immune system misfire will become an immune response, or something your body does regularly. That’s part of what makes allergies so hard to shake. The body, especially your immune system, has a certain way of doing things. Changing that process is very difficult and sometimes even impossible.

What Should You Be Doing to Manage Your Allergies?

If you have allergies, managing them is paramount. First, you should see an allergist to receive an official diagnosis. They can then prescribe you a medication aimed at containing the over production of the chemicals involved in the allergic response.

Avoiding allergy triggers is another important part of allergy management. If, for instance, you have a food allergy, then it’s crucial you cease eating foods that create that reaction. Carrying a source of epinephrine is also recommended. Testing  at an allergy office will help identify what is triggering your body’s abnormal response.

What if you’re allergic to something like dust mites, pet dander or pollen? Limiting exposure to the allergen is still your best defense from uncomfortable allergy symptoms. You might curtail the time you go outdoors if you have a pollen allergy, for instance, and avoid the outdoors when pollen counts are high.

It’s important to remember that allergens don’t linger solely outside. If it’s dust or dander that causes your symptoms, then being indoors might be worse than spending time outdoors. That’s why the ACAAI created the HOME Allergy Management plan. This is a series of tips and methods for preventing and managing allergies while in the household.

Here are some pointers from HOME Allergy Management:

  • If you have a pet dander allergy, make sure someone else in the house gives your dog a bath weekly. This should lessen pet dander and decrease pollen trapped in the fur.
  • If it’s a mold allergy you have, ventilation is key. If bathrooms or kitchens get too humid and the hot air has nowhere to go, mold forms. Cleaning a room can also wipe out mold if it’s already developed.
  • Dander and dust can get trapped in carpets, bedding, chairs, and couches, causing symptoms even if the whole home is clean.  Regular cleaning and elimination of soft surfaces in the home can be helpful.

What If That’s Not Working?

In addition to following the HOME Allergy Management plan from ACAAI, you should also have an allergy management plan with your allergist. Every few months, you should discuss if your symptoms have gotten worse or if you’ve become symptomatic to a new allergen. Your medication dosages can be increased or decreased throughout the year to accommodate your symptom severity.

What Else Can Be Done?

If medications and environmental changes are not sufficient to control your symptoms an immunotherapy (allergy shot) program may be recommended. An allergy serum, customized to your particular triggers, is prescribed. It is given first in weekly injections in gradually higher doses. This is desensitize your immune system and prevent it over reaction. The vast majority (85%) of patients have lasting relief of their allergy symptoms after 3 to 5 years on allergy shots.

If you need more guidance understanding and managing your allergies, we encourage you to come to Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center. We’re based in the Charlotte area but have more than a dozen locations across North Carolina.

We specialize in both allergies and asthma, working with patients get to the bottom of their symptoms and find them a treatment that works. Whether you have allergies to insects, certain medication ingredients, foods, or more, we’re certain we can help you attain your best quality of life.

Allergies may not have a cure, but you have options. Contact us at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center today.

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