Spring (and Allergens) are in the Air
Do you ever start sneezing uncontrollably around a friend’s cat? Or get a runny nose in a dusty room? You may be struggling with allergies. Whether those symptoms are a minor nuisance or have come to affect your daily life, it’s important to address the source of your allergies and treat them properly to experience long-term relief.
Common allergens responsible for ear, nose, and throat (ENT) allergies include dust, mold, animal dander, and pollen. Allergies to plant pollens and mold can be seasonal, depending on what plants are in bloom, and weather conditions such as humidity and wind. Most ENT allergens produce mild symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, a runny nose, headaches, as well as itching, and soreness in the throat and ears. More severe reactions to ENT allergens, such as anaphylaxis, are less common but can be life-threatening.
Untreated allergies should not be ignored because they may lead to more significant medical problems, including sinus infections, ear infections, asthma, bronchitis, snoring and sleep apnea. Florida E.N.T. & Allergy encourages patients with allergies to schedule an initial appointment for allergy evaluation and testing. Allergy testing will identify the specific allergens causing your symptoms and determine a personalized treatment plan for you.
Allergies are most commonly treated with over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines to help reduce symptoms, as well as decongestants and nasal sprays to clear the nasal passageway and improve breathing. In cases where a patient’s allergies directly contribute to severe and chronic illnesses such as sinus infections, bronchitis, asthma flare-ups, and pneumonia – leading to multiple rounds of antibiotics, missed work days, and hospitalizations – immunotherapy is recommended.
Immunotherapy is different from the medications listed above because it provides you with significantly better control of your symptoms and can lead to permanent or long-term relief. Over-the-counter medications typically only provide temporary relief. There are multiple forms of immunotherapy, including allergy drops and allergy shots. Both forms introduce your body to gradually increasing doses of your allergen(s), which leads to the downregulation of your allergic reactions, decreased symptoms and eventually, the potential for complete desensitization or loss of allergies.
If you are looking for a needle-free option, allergy drops are a highly effective way to treat environmental allergies. Allergy drops are ideal for children who are afraid of needles, medically unstable patients, or those who can’t make it to the doctor’s office for weekly allergy shots. They are placed under the tongue daily and patients conduct their treatment at home. This form of treatment is not covered by insurance, so it must be purchased out of pocket.
Allergy shots are very effective in treating nasal congestion, itchy eyes, allergic asthma, post-nasal drainage, recurring sinusitis, and bronchitis/pneumonia. They are administered in-office, once a week, increasing the dose each week. While they are extremely safe, there is still a very small risk of anaphylaxis so patients must bring an epinephrine autoinjector to appointments and wait for 30 minutes to monitor for any adverse reactions. Once the doses have increased to the maintenance level, no waiting is required after the shots. Unlike allergy drops, most insurance plans cover allergy shots; therefore, they may be the more affordable option for patients with insurance.
Both allergy drops and allergy shots are effective in controlling allergy symptoms, but the choice between the two is often based on time, cost, and preference. If you’re looking for another alternative, allergy toothpaste is an option as well! If you’re ready to face your allergies head-on, contact Florida E.N.T. & Allergy to schedule an allergy test and start getting the treatment you need to feel better.
About Florida E.N.T. & Allergy
The physicians of Florida E.N.T. & Allergy have served the Tampa Bay community for over 45 years. Their board-certified physicians and doctors of audiology have completed extensive education and clinical training as well as specialized training in their area(s) of expertise. From pediatric allergies to fitting hearing aids, their caring and experienced providers specialize in ear, nose and throat care for the entire family using comprehensive, cutting-edge technologies.