Why see an otolaryngologist for allergies?
Otolaryngologists differ from many physicians that treat allergies in that they are trained in both medicine and surgery. Therefore, otolaryngologists can offer comprehensive care in treating problems with the nose and sinuses. Oftentimes, it can be difficult for a patient to know whether a problem with the nose or sinuses is caused by allergy, infection, or an anatomic problem. An otolaryngologist is trained to diagnose and treat whatever the combination of these factors contributes to a patient's symptoms. Only an otolaryngologist can deliver both medical and surgical care for these problems.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is an abnormal reaction or increased sensitivity to certain substances called “allergens.” The allergic individual experiences symptoms when exposed to these substances, which are harmless to non-allergic people. Allergic rhinitis results from an inflammation and irritation of the lining of the nose in response to inhlaing an allergen.
Who has an allergy?
Allergies are quite common. According to the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology, one out of every six Americans suffers from an allergic condition. Allergies commonly begin in childhood, but symptoms can manifest themselves at any age. One is never too old to develop allergies. Allergies are a leading cause of school absenteeism and loss of productivity in the working world.
A family history of allergies, such as hay fever, hives, eczema, or asthma, is an important risk factor in developing allergies. Statistically, if one parent has allergies, then children will have a 25% chance of also developing allergies. Should both parents experience allergies, there is a 75%- 80% chance that the children will also have symptoms.
How can you tell if your symptoms are a cold or an allergy?
While both colds and certain allergies share common symptoms, a cold is caused by a virus and an allergy is triggered by an allergen. Many people who suffer from allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, think that they have colds, when, in fact, substances in their environment are to blame. A cold is frequently accompanied by other symptoms such as sore throat and cough and only lasts 3-5 days, whereas allergic rhinitis tends to come and go and recur during the same season each year.
Common allergy allergy symptoms are:
- Runny nose
- Red, watery, or itchy eyes
- Eye discharge
- Chronic post nasal drip
- Chronic sinus infections
- Itchy skin
- Ear pain
The best method to determine if you suffer from allergies and what allergens trigger your symptoms is allergy skin testing. With the results of this test, your physician can confirm the severity of your allergies and formulate a treatment plan.