An allergy is an immune response elicited by your body to certain substances such as pollen, latex, or even certain foods. An allergy occurs when the body treats these substances or allergens as a foreign entity. An allergy experienced by an individual may be mild in nature or even life-threatening in rare instances. Some of the symptoms which one experiences during an allergy include teary eyes, a runny nose, hives, and itchiness. If you are in Singapore, then The ENT Clinic is the best place to address the allergy disorders. The allergy specialist at the center offer comprehensive care.
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What is an allergic reaction?
An allergy is the way our bodies respond to allergens. During an allergy, there is a sequence of events that take place. The body produces IgE antibodies in response to an allergic reaction. These antibodies find the allergens and remove them from the body. During this process, histamines are released and this is responsible for the allergy symptoms.
What types of allergies are present?
Allergies are seasonal or present throughout the year. Seasonal allergies are caused by pollen, molds, etc. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is an allergic response caused due to pollen. Seasonal allergies brought in by pollen cause swelling to the conjunctiva of the eyes. It can cause sneezing and congestion. Cold weather is allergic to certain individuals and may be present throughout the year.
How are allergies diagnosed?
If you suspect that you have an allergy, then don’t wait until symptoms fade. Make an appointment with an ENT specialist if your symptoms last longer than a week. Allergy skin testing is performed to understand the skin’s reaction to the allergen. Through this test, the number of antibodies produced can be analyzed.
Some of the other allergy testing includes the IgE test. A blood sample is sent to the lab and the lab would add allergens to the blood sample. Through this procedure, the IgE antibody levels would be measured. The other form of allergy testing is the challenge test. This test is performed at an ENT clinic. The person with the allergy is given the allergen or the food in a very small amount. The challenge test should only be done under medical supervision. In case there is an anaphylaxis attack, then the ENT doctor would give an epinephrine shot to stop the reaction.
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What things should I remember prior to allergy testing?
Antihistamines must be stopped between 3 to 7 days prior to an allergy test as these medicines can interfere with allergy testing. Antihistamines can stop the immune system’s response to allergens. During allergy testing, sometimes the patients can have mild itchiness and watery eyes. However, these symptoms will clear in an hour or two after the test. But, the redness of the skin test may remain for several more hours. The only risk of allergy testing is that an anaphylaxis reaction can occur. Therefore it is important to have the allergy testing performed with an experienced doctor. If a severe reaction occurs then epinephrine will be administered.
How is an allergy treated by an ENT doctor?
Avoiding the allergen which is causing the allergy is the best approach, however, it is not possible in many practical cases. This is especially true with seasonal allergies.
The medications which can be taken for an allergy include:
- Nasal corticosteroids: These are nose sprays which help with reducing the swelling of the nasal lining. When there is swelling in the nose, it causes stuffiness, itchiness, and a runny nose, thus nasal corticosteroids are the most effective medication for a nasal allergy.
- Antihistamines: They help in blocking the histamines which are produced during an allergy. This helps to keep away allergy symptoms of watery eyes and an itchy nose. It is available as a nose spray, pills, and liquid medication.
- Decongestants: These help in reducing the stuffiness of the nose. It helps in reducing the swollen membranes of the nasal cavity. It should be used in short sprints else it may get worse.
- Mast cell stabilizers: It helps to keep the body from releasing histamines. Available as eye drops and nasal sprays, it controls the itchiness and a runny nose.
- Corticosteroid ointments and creams: An allergy may bring in a rash. To relieve the itchiness and stop the rash from spreading, corticosteroids can be used. The ENT doctor will prescribe it when needed.
- Oral corticosteroids: These will be prescribed by an ENT doctor to reduce the swelling and stop severe allergic reactions. Oral corticosteroids can cause serious side effects and therefore the ENT doctor will monitor you carefully when you are taking them.
- Epinephrine: This is what is administered during a life threatening allergic reaction. If you think you are facing an anaphylaxis reaction, then self-injectable epinephrine’s are available which is very effective. It is important to get the epinephrine shot at the first signs of a serious allergic reaction. This could be life-threatening due to insect stings, food, or drug allergy-causing an immediate reaction.
- Asthma medications: Certain asthma medications help in reducing allergy symptoms and this can include inhaled steroids, inhaled bronchodilators like theophylline, and anti-leukotrienes. Injected medications include omalizumab.
- Immunotherapy: By far this brings the best results for an allergy, helping to ease the symptoms completely. Immunotherapy may include allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy. Allergy shots involve having injections for allergens in an increasing dose over a duration of 3 to 5 years. This will be decided by your ENT physician. Allergy shots are given to people who have an allergy due to insect stings, dust, food, etc. Sublingual immunotherapy is another way to treat allergies without having injections. In this case, the ENT doctor will administer small doses of an allergen under the tongue. It’s safe and effective. It is always important that such treatment is done under the purview of an experienced allergy specialist as having severe allergic reactions is a possibility.
The advantage of using immunotherapy is having a long-lasting cure for an allergy. The ENT Clinic specializes in conducting immunotherapy. It will greatly help to improve your lifestyle. The clinic is also flexible to fix the appointments at your convenience since, during the initial months of treatment, there may be frequent visits. Located conveniently in Gleneagles Hospital and Mt Elizabeth Novena Center, this ENT practice uses the latest technology for diagnosis and treatment, with many allergy experts to cater to your needs.