Allergies

Allergies (hayfever) are caused by the immune system reacting to substances (or allergens) that would typically not trigger a reaction.  Allergies result from environmental factors and genetic predisposition.  If one parent is allergic, the risk of allergies in a child is 30 to 40 percent.  If both parents are allergic, there is a 50 to 70 percent chance of a child developing allergies. Oklahoma is often ranked as one of the worst locations for allergies due to our climate, wind and types of vegetation.  

Symptoms include:

  • Nose- Sneezing, runny nose, congestion, post nasal drip
  • Eyes- Redness, watery, itchy, irritated
  • Throat- Drainage, throat clearing, itching and hoarseness
  • Ears- Pressure, popping, itching, fullness

These symptoms are often dismissed as a “nuisance disorder” but these can have significant impact on patients day to day lives impairing sleep, sporting activities, work and school.

The best way to diagnose allergies is by a thorough history, physical exam and allergy testing by a board-certified allergist.

Triggers include:

  • Grass pollen
  • Tree pollen
  • Weed pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Animal Dander

Testing

Allergy testing is performed to find out if you have allergies.   There are different types of allergy tests.

  • Skin testing: This is the most common way to perform allergy testing because it is quick, easy and cost-effective.  You will also get results while you are still in the office.  With skin testing, a small amount of each allergen is pricked on the skin.  Then, in 15-20 minutes, your provider looks for a small area of redness or swelling at the test site.  In some cases, additional skin testing is performed where a small amount of the allergen is injected just below the skin.  After the test is completed, everything is washed off the skin and any itching typically resolves very quickly. 
  • Blood allergy testing: There may be instances when skin testing is unable to be performed.  Your provider may then order blood allergy tests that measures allergic antibody levels for specific allergens in your blood.

Your provider will help you determine which type of testing is best for you.

Treatment

The board certified allergist's goal is to help patients prevent symptoms by managing their allergies so they can lead healthy, normal lives.  The strong emphasis placed on individualized patient care has been part of the clinic's philosophy of practice for over 75 years.

  • Allergen avoidance: your allergist will provide guidance on how to reduce exposures to your allergy triggers 
  • Antihistamines: These medications can reduce sneezing, itching, runny nose and congestion.   
  • There are also other type of anti-allergy medications that can be prescribed to help reduce allergy symptoms.
  • Nasal sprays:  There are several different types of nasal sprays that can reduce sneezing, runny nose, congestion, dripping and post nasal drip.  
  • Sublingual tablets are available for a few allergens to reduce allergic sensitivity to that allergen.
  • Allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) is where small amounts of what you are allergic to are injected under the skin.  The dose is gradually increased to desensitize your body to the allergens and dramatically reduce or eliminate your allergy symptoms. This is often the most effective treatment option for allergies and can treat for numerous allergens at the same time.