If you suffer from allergies, you’re not alone—fifty million people nationwide suffer from allergies and another 24 million are affected by asthma, a related condition.
What’s going on when your body experiences an allergy?
When an allergic person is exposed to a normally harmless substance such as dust, mold or pollen, the immune system may overreact by producing antibodies to attack the allergen. That reaction can cause symptoms that range from a merely annoying runny nose to life-threatening swelling (anaphylaxsis).
What allergy symptoms seem to bother the
In her practice at Valley Medical Center’s Allergy and Immunology Clinic, allergy and immunology specialist Niharika Rath, MD finds that seasonal concerns about itchy eyes, runny nose or nasal congestion—common “hay fever” reactions to pollen and mold, as well as suspected food allergies bring the majority of adults and children to the clinic seeking help. Dr. Rath also frequently treats those suffering from chronic hives and swelling which appear like food or environmental allergies, but may actually be separate conditions called chronic urticaria or angioedema.
Identifying a root cause takes some
“A lot of environmental irritants can create allergy- or asthma-like symptoms,” says Dr. Rath. “As an allergist, I help sort through what people are exposed to, their symptoms and timing of symptoms and look for the underlying cause. Then we can discuss the best treatment.” Dr. Rath adds, “It’s important to know that a broad scope of allergy testing is not always done because of high false positive rates. I try to be cautious about the range of potential allergens tested so we’re not led astray from the true cause.”
When you should see an allergist?
- Do you have frequent sinus infections, nasal
congestion or difficulty breathing?
Do you have hay fever (itchy eyes, runny nose or congestion) or other allergy symptoms for several months at a time?
- Are your over-the-counter medications and antihistamines failing to control allergy symptoms or are you experiencing daytime drowsiness?
- Do you have repeated hives and swelling?
- Do allergies or asthma interfere with your daily activities and/or decrease your quality of life?
- Do you struggle to catch your breath, wheeze or cough after exercise or at night?
- Do you often feel shorth of breath or feel tightness in your chest?
- Do you have frequent asthma attacks despite taking asthma medication?
If you answered “yes” to any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with an allergy specialist.
What should you bring with you to your allergist appointment?
“It’s most helpful if you bring information about the first time you experienced symptoms,” says Dr. Rath. “What food was eaten or what season was it? What were your symptoms and what was the timing? Were you coughing? Was it daytime or nighttime? Bring your current medications as well. The more information we have, the more accurately we can solve your problem.”
Think you might have a food allergy or food intolerance?
Free webinar, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, 12-1 PM
Register for Dr. Rath’s free webinar, Food Allergies Fact and Fiction
Learn about food allergies vs. intolerances, food allergy symptoms, when to be worried, how food allergy testing works, and how an allergist can help you. Even if you can’t attend, register and we’ll send you a link to watch the webinar recording at your convenience. Want a preview of the discussion about food allergies versus food intolerances? View this flyer.
Interested in making an appointment at Valley’s Allergy & Immunology Clinic? Call 425.690.3486 or visit valleymed.org/allergy—immunology.