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Allergy - Environmental Medicine

WHAT IS ALLERGY?

An allergy can be defined as an abnormal physical reaction to substances, called allergens, that are harmless to most people. Pollens, house dust mites, mold spores, animal danders, foods, drugs, dyes, cosmetics, perfumes, and stinging insects are common sources of allergens. These allergens can enter the body in different ways: pollens, house dust, and mold spores are inhaled; food allergens are swallowed; poison ivy and cosmetics produce symptoms in allergic people by touch; certain drugs and insect venoms enter the body by being injected.

The immune system produces antibodies as a defense against infection and other diseases. In allergic people, an excess of a certain antibody called IgE is often produced. These IgE antibodies, which are considered immediate hypersensitivity antibodies, react and release inflammatory chemicals when they contact allergens and then allergy symptoms are produced. Immediate hypersensitivity usually occurs within minutes or a hour of an exposure, and can be a life threatening emergency. Some types of allergic symptoms can occur with other antibodies such as IgA, IgG, and IgM. These are considered delayed allergy and symptoms can occur up to 72 hours after exposure. The measurement of IgE, IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies is the key to effective allergy diagnosis and treatment.

HOW ARE ALLERGIES DIAGNOSED?

For an individual's allergies to be appropriately treated and controlled, it is important that the specific allergen(s) causing allergic symptoms be identified. The patient may choose to do skin testing, a blood test, or both. Skin tests can actually treat the symptoms of allergens that are breathed in and cannot be avoided as in molds, dust, mites, tree, grass and weed pollens. The blood test can measure a person's IgG, IgM, IgE and IgA antibodies to a wide variety of allergens. A small sample of blood can be analyzed in the laboratory for a safe and accurate diagnosis. Bloodspot testing available for some tests which is done by a simple finger stick at home. This test is very valuable especially for finding what foods the person may be allergic to. At that point the person may choose avoidance, skin testing for treatment and rotating the foods in the diet. Blood screening tests for allergies are available by clicking here. For further information you may call the office at 207-657-4325.  Both skin tests and blood tests provide valuable information for keeping your allergies under control.

HOW ARE ALLERGIES TREATED?

Here at Chelation Medical Center we offer preservative free allergy testing using a specialized form of testing called Provocative / Neutralization. We are the only clinic in New England that offers preservative free allergy testing. This procedure for immunotherapy skin testing takes one or two days but it enables the patient to get immediate relief from their neutralizing doses and permits them to take their own allergy shots at home rather than coming to the office every week. If the patient comes from a distance, once testing is completed, antigens can be mailed to their home. We believe that preservatives in antigens can cloud the results of skin testing, and have taken the step to provide all of our antigens as preservative free. The normal preservative chemicals found in many other offices for testing, such as phenol and glycerin, is thus eliminated for our patients with chemical sensitivity. The testing is exact and the benefits are great!

An allergy treatment program may include several phases for control of symptoms. Once the offending substance(s) have been identified, it may be possible to simply avoid those things in your environment that cause you to experience allergic symptoms. Food allergies are commonly treated with avoidance. Many allergens are not avoidable as in the case of pollens, dust, mold spores, etc. Many symptoms can be controlled with "Allergy Shots". Allergy shots or "Immunotherapy" is prescribed when long-term protection against allergic reactions is needed to control symptoms. Immunotherapy consists of a series of injections which can be done at home usually once every four days.  These injections contain small amounts of the offending allergen(s) which were identified by the skin tests. This treatment is designed to neutralize the patients' reactions against the substances to which they are allergic.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ALLERGY?

Allergic symptoms may take many different forms. Symptoms occur frequently:

In the Nose — Allergic Rhinitis or hay fever is associated with nasal itching, congestion, sneez­ing, post nasal drip and a runny, watery dis­charge. All of these symptoms are cold-like and are sometimes not recognized as allergy. Sinu­sitis is often a- complication of allergic rhinitis.

 In the Eyes — Conjunctivitis symptoms are itch­ing, redness, swelling, and tearing.

In the Lungs — Asthma symptoms are shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and cough. Recurrent bronchial infections can be caused by allergies.

On the Skin — Hives (Urticaria) are itchy welts of varying sizes that may appear on the skin, lips, and inside the mouth and ears.

In the Digestive Tract — With symptoms of stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea (usually associated with sensitivity to foods).

In the Ears — As fluid in the middle ear or recurrent ear infections which can eventually result in some loss of hearing.  Foods maybe a culprit with chronic ear infections.
 
In the form of other disorders — Headaches, fatigue, hyperactivity, and depression can all be symptoms of allergy.



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Information contained on this website has not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. None of the information is meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Persons suffering from any disease or illness, should consult with a physician or health care professional.
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