An allergy occurs when the immune system, designed to attack harmful pathogens like viruses and bacteria, reacts to harmless environmental substances much in the same way. The result is the deployment of a range of uncomfortable defense mechanisms that serve no real purpose.
The first step in the diagnosis of allergies is a physical examination and health history. The practitioner needs to know which symptoms the patient is experiencing, when they began, if they follow any known exposure, and whether they have experienced this in the past. If environmental allergies are suspected, skin tests or blood tests can be used to confirm the diagnosis. Skin tests are used most often because they provide immediate results, they reveal more subtle allergies, and they’re cost-effective.
There are dozens of common allergies including:
Food and drug allergies are often more severe than pet, environmental, and seasonal allergies. Food and drug allergies can produce a life-threatening allergic reaction and require emergency medical treatment.
Environmental allergy symptoms can include runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, sneezing, nasal congestion, and wheezing. Patients who suspect they may have environmental allergies should seek treatment from the primary care team at Florida Family Practice.
The treatment of allergies depends on the cause, severity, and other factors. Generally, treatment includes one or more of the following:
Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, expose the body to small amounts of the allergen on a set interval to build up immunity over time. Patients should work closely with their doctor to find the treatment most suitable for their unique circumstances.