What are allergies?
Allergies are when your body's immune system overreacts to an allergen(s), an external harmless substance. Examples of allergens are weeds, grasses, trees, molds, dust mites, and animal dander.
There has been a "rise in prevalence of allergic diseases...in the industrialized world for more than 50 years," according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
People suffer from:
- Itchy and runny or blocked nose
- Itchy, red, watering eyes
- Wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath
- Swollen lips, tongue, eyes, or face
Types of allergies include drug allergy, food allergy, insect allergy, latex allergy, mold allergy, pet allergy, and pollen allergy.
Step One: Your Bethlehem, PA doctor asks about your personal and family medical history.
Step Two: Dr. Andrew J. Pestcoe will ask you to stop taking certain medications, like prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines, heartburn treatment medications, and tricyclic antidepressants.
Skin tests: Your doctor places an allergen on your skin, lightly puncturing the skin for further exposure to the allergen, and closely monitors how your skin reacts to the foreign substance. If allergy symptoms, redness, and swelling appear, then you're allergic to that allergen. Another form of skin test is the patch test, which involves adhesive patches containing allergens being placed on your skin for 72-to-96 hours.
Blood tests: If a skin test is too dangerous for you, your doctor uses a blood test. Your blood is tested at a laboratory to detect antibodies that fight specific allergens.
Elimination diet: This is pretty straightforward. Your doctor uses this test to determine what foods you're allergic to. He does this by removing food from your diet, then adding them back to determine which foods cause problems.
Treating and Managing Allergies
There is no cure for allergies but there are several ways to manage them. This includes allergy shots, over-the-counter antihistamines, and avoiding the allergen altogether.