Many head and neck symptoms such as nasal congestion, itchy eyes, sinusitis, post-nasal drainage, rash, and hoarseness can be manifestations of allergic disease. Allergy is your body’s reaction to something in its environment. Many times managing allergy can improve multiple symptoms and avoid unnecessary surgery or medication over-use.
The first step is to meet with a physician to determine if allergy is a possible underlying cause for your symptoms. It is important to consider things that make the symptoms better or worse, such as time of year or certain locations. Many medications are helpful for allergy sufferers, and this is usually the first step in treatment.
Identifying the substances one is allergic to can be very helpful in order to manage or avoid contact with those substances. Skin tests are a method of testing for allergic reactions to substances, or allergens, in the environment. A test consists of introducing small amounts of allergens into the skin and noting the development of a positive reaction, which consists of a wheal (swelling) and flare (surrounding area of redness). We employ the prick method, where the skin is pricked with a pointed device (not a needle) that introduces the allergen into the skin. Other allergy testing options include injecting the allergen with needles or going to a lab for blood tests.
If medication and avoidance of allergens is not effective enough to improve symptoms satisfactorily, immunotherapy (allergy shots) should be considered. When small amounts of the allergen are injected into the skin on a regular basis, the body will build up resistance to that allergen and lessen the effects of the reaction. Improvement in symptoms is a gradual process, and injections usually have to be administered for years.
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