Environmental allergies are an immune system overreaction to substances we all encounter in our daily lives. Compared to food allergies, an environmental allergy can be difficult to identify as it only requires inhaling an airborne substance. As a result, many people suffering from allergies never fully understand the allergen or allergens responsible for a reaction. So how can a person get properly diagnosed, and follow an allergy treatment plan that actually works?
What Are the Main Environmental Allergies?
We all encounter many harmless airborne substances each day. However, for a person with an allergy, these substances can cause a runny nose, shortness of breath, wheezing, itching and other symptoms. Here are the main environmental allergies to consider.
According to CDC data, pollen allergies (allergic rhinitis) affect as many as 60 million Americans yearly. In addition, medical costs associated with pollen exceed $3 billion annually. And with conjunctivitis causing aggravating eye inflammation, there’s more than just hay fever to consider.
Dust mites live in dust around the house, and continued exposure to these microscopic bugs often triggers congestion, sneezing and itching.
If you have a pet or are in close contact with an animal, you might experience allergy symptoms. Proteins in the pet’s skin cells, saliva or urine get trapped in their fur and can set off reactions.
Mold typically thrives in areas of moisture such as in a pile of leaves or the bathroom. When a person inhales mold spores, it can trigger an allergic reaction.
How Are Environmental Allergies Diagnosed?
As you can tell, many of these substances will not be easy to spot. Most people are exposed to pollen, mold spores, dust and other substances daily. This means you really need a professional diagnosis from a board-certified allergist.
Allergists typically use two types of environmental allergy testing.
Skin testing – Skin prick tests are quick and reliable, with the ability to test for many allergens at once.
Blood testing – Blood tests identify IgE antibodies related to specific allergens, confirming the body has reacted to a particular substance.
Allergists make accurate diagnoses using one or both tests, along with a person’s symptoms and medical history. This diagnosis can then serve as the basis for a comprehensive allergy treatment plan.
Effective Treatments for Environmental Allergies
To reduce the impact of allergy triggers, allergy treatments are usually multifaceted. For example, remedies like using an air filter and monitoring pollen counts are helpful. However, integrating medication such as antihistamines with these home treatments will offer greater protection from exposure to allergens.
After allergy testing, your allergist may also recommend immunotherapy. Receiving allergy shots over an extended period desensitizes the immune system to the allergen, with the goal of providing the patient with a better quality of life.
Don’t Let Environmental Allergies Get You Down
Start taking control of your allergies with reliable allergy testing and treatment solutions today! Dr. Chacko at Chacko Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center is one of many Atlanta-area allergists ready to help you.
Are you suffering from allergies? Find out how to identify environmental allergies and the best treatment options. Call now at (678) 668-4688.