Allergies of the Ear, Nose & Throat
You’re not alone if you suffer from allergies.
In fact, millions of Americans have them. Allergies can appear at any age, and can even disappear in childhood only to reappear in adulthood. Allergy is a condition, often inherited, in which the immune system of the affected person reacts to something in the environment that doesn’t affect most other people. The patient’s immune system reacts to this substance as if it were an “enemy invader” (like a virus). This reaction leads to symptoms that often adversely affect the patient’s work, play, rest, and overall quality of life.
People often think of allergy as only “hayfever,” with sneezing, runny nose, nasal stuffiness and itchy, watery eyes. However, allergies can also cause symptoms such as chronic “sinus” problems, postnasal drip, head congestion, frequent “colds,” recurring ear infections, hearing loss, dizziness, chronic cough and asthma. Even stomach and intestinal problems, many skin rashes, chronic headaches and fatigue can be symptoms of allergy.
Symptoms of Ear / Nose / Throat allergies include:
- Nasal Congestion
- Runny Nose
- Post Nasal Drip
- Repeated Sneezing
- Itchy, Watery, Red Eyes
- Itchy Ears / Nose / Throat
- Ear fullness and popping
- Dark circles under the eyes
What are the most common Allergens?
Pollen from trees, grass, and weeds
Allergies that occur in the spring (late April and May) are often due to tree pollen. Allergies that occur in the summer (late May to mid-July) are often due to grass and weed pollen. Allergies that occur in the fall (late August to the first frost) are often due to ragweed.
Mold is common where water tends to collect, such as shower curtains, window moldings and damp basements. They can also be found in rotting logs, hay, mulches, commercial peat moss, compost piles and leaf litter. This allergy is usually worse during humid and rainy weather.
Proteins found in the skin, saliva, and urine of furry pets such as cats and dogs are allergens. You can be exposed to dander when handling an animal or from house dust that contains dander.
Many allergens, including dust mites, are in dust. Dust mites are tiny living creatures found in bedding, mattresses, carpeting and upholstered furniture. They live on dead skin cells and other things found in house dust.
Allergy Treatment in New York City
Despite the advances in allergy care during the past several decades, there are still only three basic, accepted approaches to allergy care:
- Avoidance of the offending allergens
- Pharmacotherapy (medications)
- Immunotherapy (allergy shots/ desensitization)
The first most basic treatment step, once an allergen has been identified, is to eliminate or avoid contact with it, if possible. Unfortunately, avoiding some allergens (such as dust, molds, and animals) is often difficult and thus allergen avoidance alone may not be effective.
Medications can frequently control allergy symptoms. These may include antihistamines, decongestants, prescription nasal sprays, leukotriene inhibitors and other types of products.
When allergen avoidance and medications do not successfully control allergy symptoms, the Otolaryngic Allergist can alter the body’s overactive response by care- fully challenging the patient’s immune system through regular injections of the actual allergens to which a patient is sensitive. This treatment, very similar to the vaccination for infectious diseases such as the flu, can be given after allergy testing has revealed what it is that a patient is allergic to. Over time it may be possible to actually alter a person’s excessive response to these environmental allergens, and both improve symptoms, as well as decrease the need for medications and allergen avoidance for many years.
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