October 21, 2016

Respiratory allergies and immunotherapy

Family Medicine
Primary Care

An ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) is a physician trained in the medical and surgical treatment of the ears, nose, throat and related structures of the head and neck. ENTs have special expertise in managing diseases, conditions, disorders and infections of the ears, nose and nasal passage, sinuses, voice box, mouth and throat, as well as structures of the neck and face. ENTs can also provide diagnosis and treatment for respiratory allergies, including grasses, trees, weeds, molds, cats and dogs. Allergies are among the most common health problems, with more than 50 million people afflicted by allergy-related conditions each year. ENTs also provide immunotherapy for allergies.

resp-allergiesWhat is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is the only specific treatment for allergy; all other treatments are directed at relieving allergy symptoms rather than working on a more permanent solution as immunotherapy does. There is no true “cure” for allergies, but immunotherapy can have a very beneficial effect on the health of an allergic person.

Immunotherapy is often used in addition to environmental controls and allergy medications to eliminate or reduce symptoms. It is most effective for those allergies caused by substances that are inhaled, such as pollens, mold spores, house dust, and animal dander.

Immunotherapy is an individually-tailored program designed to combat specific allergies. It involves gradually giving increased doses of the allergen (substance you are allergic to). As a result, the immune system is stimulated to react to the allergen, and over time, you become less sensitive to it. This treatment reduces the symptoms experienced when coming into contact with the allergen in the future. This kind of therapy needs to be monitored and performed by physicians specially-trained in allergy treatment.

When to see an ENT allergy specialist
An otolaryngologist (ENT) who specializes in allergy has special training to identify allergy triggers, and help people treat or prevent their problems. Allergy sufferers may become used to frequent symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, headaches or wheezing. Often, allergy symptoms can also make asthma worse.

Allergies can develop at any age, or recur after many years of remission. It is not uncommon for allergies to gradually develop over time. With the help of an ENT, allergy symptoms can usually be prevented or controlled, resulting in a major improvement in quality of life.

A family doctor can recommend the best course of treatment for many allergic conditions or may refer you to see an ENT specialist. If you experience hay fever or other allergy symptoms for several months out of the year, and antihistamines and over-the-counter medications don’t control your allergy symptoms or create unacceptable side effects, then it may be time to visit a Fort HealthCare Ear, Nose & Throat specialist near you. Visit FortHealthCare.com/ENT for more information.