What are Allergies?
An allergy is an abnormal reaction of the body to substances from the outside environment. These substances can be taken into the body through different methods: through the skin (insect bites, carpet, animal contact, etc.), by the mouth (food, beverages, or medications), or through the nose and lungs (pollens, house dust, animal dander). These substances trigger an allergic reaction and are referred to as allergens.
What are some common symptoms?
Allergies can contribute to asthma, rhinitis, eczema, hay fever and urticaria (hives). Symptoms include runny nose, or eyes, wheezing, nasal and/or chest congestion, sinus headaches, frequent colds, cough, itching, frequent ear infections, sneezing, sore throat, burning and itchy eyes. Asthma is a complex disease of the airways and allergic reaction is a major contributing factor.
For more information about allergies
- Allergy Control Products
- The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Patient Center
- Current Local and National Pollen Levels
ALLERGIST OR ENT?
How do you know when to see an ENT and when to see an allergist? After all, an ENT deals with your ears, nose and throat, right? And all of those things are what start to bother you most when allergy symptoms are likely to peak; so should you see an allergist only when it’s allergy season and an ENT when it’s not? What’s best for your health and peace of mind?
Ear, Nose and Throat doctors are surgeons who focus mainly on structural problems and ENT complexities that can be corrected with surgery. Their ENT training typically causes them to look for bone and cartilage defects first, which are corrected through surgery. A patient will see an ENT specialist when she is having difficulty with nasal breathing, is experiencing a sore throat or raspy voice, and/or has trouble hearing clearly.
But did you know that most of those problems are due to allergies? In fact more than 50% of sinus difficulties are caused by allergies, with the majority of the remaining percentage caused by a combination of allergy and non-allergy related symptoms.
Because of the prevalence of allergies, many ENTs offer allergy testing; but this is where the main difference between an allergist and an ENT exists.
It’s very likely that your ENT has received less than two weeks of allergy training, which would need to cover all possible allergens, type of allergic reactions, how to test for allergies, how to interpret those results, and how to best treat the patient. All of that in two weeks for most ENT doctors offering allergy services. Yes, he or she receives accreditation but from associations within the field of ENT. Compare that to accreditation received from the American Board of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. A board certified allergist receives two years of training (not two weeks) in the diagnosis, management and treatment of allergic disease. That specialized training is in addition to his or her pediatrician and/or internal medicine accreditation. An allergist’s main focus and expertise is on your allergies. From a board certified allergist you will receive care that is careful, thorough and knowledgeable as it relates to your allergies.
From a trained board-certified allergist you can expect:
A complete allergy history (including a skin test)
Properly conducted and interpreted skin test results
A sophisticated treatment plan, which can consist of avoidance, medication and or immunotherapy
Since the underlying cause of sinus disease and related symptoms is frequently allergy, an allergist should always be seen first. If your allergist suspects structural problems in combination with allergic symptoms, he will gladly guide you to an ENT for proper care.
At the Okemos Allergy Center, our allergists are board certified in allergy and immunology. They have received the best training available in determining the underlying causes of allergic and sinus-related diseases and their treatment. Trust us in providing quality allergic and sinus care. And just as important, trust us first.