Allergy Testing / Treatment
More than 50 million people in the United States have allergies. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Our physicians at Carolina Ear Nose Throat- Head and Neck Surgery Center, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of INHALANT allergies. Inhalant allergies may cause symptoms such as recurrent or persistent colds, cough or difficulty breathing, frequent sneezing, stuffy nose and/or runny nose, recurrent or chronic sinus infection, recurrent or persistent sore or swollen throat and post nasal drainage, recurrent or chronic upper respiratory tract symptoms that cannot be diagnosed or treated, recurrent ear infections.
In our state of the art allergy facility, skin testing is the most common methods used to diagnose allergies. We use a combination of prick tests and intradermal tests. Prick tests involve placing a small drop of common allergens on the skin with a small plastic applicator that pricks the skin. Intradermal tests involve injecting a small amount of allergens into the outer layer of the skin. Once your specific allergens are identified you and your physician may determine if you are a candidate for allergy injections (subcutaneous immunotherapy) for treatment of your allergies.
We also do blood testing for allergies when appropriate. The blood sample is mixed with the lab with various allergens and the amount of an antibody, called IgE, is measured. This is called a radioallergosorbent test (RAST). Blood testing is not as sensitive as skin testing and may miss allergens that are triggering symptoms. However, it is an option for individuals who cannot undergo skin testing due to a skin rash or cannot temporarily stay off of medications that keep the skin test from being accurate.
Many times it can be difficult for a patient to know whether a problem with the sinuses is caused by allergy, infection, a structural problem or some combination of these. An ENT Physician is trained to help sort this out, and then to treat the causes.
Intradermal Dilution Testing is a method of allergy skin testing that determines whether or not an allergy exists, and also predicts the highest safest starting dose for allergy injections, (immunotherapy) if this treatment method is needed. Since each person's degree of sensitivity is different, it is helpful for us to determine your exact degree of sensitivity to each Allergen. This 'custom fit' approach to treatment results in quicker symptom relief.
You will need to make an appointment with one of our Physicians to discuss Allergy Skin Testing. Once seen, a referral for testing will be sent back to the Allergy Department and one of us will call you within a week to discuss setting up an appointment for testing. You will be given important information at the time of your test and you can plan to receive your test results as soon as you are finished. A follow-up appointment is then made to discuss whether or not you are a candidate for immunotherapy.
Once your personal Treatment Mixture is prepared, you will receive a call from the Allergy Department and you will then begin your "build up" to feeling better! The length of your personal "build up phase" will be discussed with you at your first injection appointment. Eventually you may be a candidate for self-administered home injections.
We at believe in taking a conservative approach to your immunotherapy. Because we choose to build you up in a slow and calculated manner, you may find that you experience little to no reactions at all! Our goal is to slowly introduce the Allergens that you tested positive for, causing your body to naturally build up the necessary antibodies to relieve your bothersome symptoms. You may experience some localized reactions at the test or injection sites in the form of itching, or redness and warmth. These are usually relieved by the application of ice or an over the counter topical anti-itch cream such as Benadryl. Again, this will be discussed at length at your initial appointment.
When can you expect relief from those bothersome symptoms?
Typically we have found that you can expect to start feeling the benefits from your immunotherapy once you have reached your personal maintenance dose. Because each patient is different and your course of treatment is based upon your test results, this will vary from person to person. Your personal course of treatment will be discussed at your initial immunotherapy appointment. The Carolina Sinus & Allergy Department is devoted to making your course of treatment as easy as possible for you.
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