An estimated 45 million Americans suffer from allergies. Common symptoms caused by allergies may include:
• Frequent sneezing
• Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
• Stuffy nose
• Runny nose
• Post nasal drip
Allergies may also play a part in other disorders of the ear, nose, and throat area, such as ear infections, hoarseness, and sinusitis. Symptoms can be either seasonal or present year round.
In those individuals that suffer from allergies, their immune systems respond to common allergens in the environment, such as pollen or animal dander, by release of chemical mediators from the body such as histamine. The histamine and other chemical mediators which are released by the body then cause the allergy symptoms to develop.
Individuals can easily be tested for allergies with either a skin test, where small amounts or allergen are placed on the skin, or with blood testing.
Allergies typically are treated by a combination of avoidance of the allergens if possible, medications, and immunotherapy (allergy shots or sublingual drops). Medications helpful in treating allergies include nasal steroids and antihistamines. People with allergies that are not well controlled by medications may be candidates for immunotherapy, which modulates the allergic response. Immunotherapy can be given via injections (injection immunotherapy) or sublingual immunotherapy (oral drops).