Your Body's Response to Allergens
An allergy is an abnormal response by your body to an otherwise harmless substance. Allergies commonly affect you when you inhale, ingest or touch that substance, called an allergen. Allergens include pollen, mold spores, house dust, pet hair/dander, dust mites, insect venom, food, medication and many other things.
An allergen can trigger a reaction in almost any part of your body, but usually affects the ears, eyes, nose and throat. Symptoms are often seasonal, but can occur year-round.
Common symptoms that may be caused by allergies include:
- Runny, stuffy or itchy nose
- Itching eyes
- Post-nasal drip
- Ear fullness
- Hearing changes
- Sore throat
- Throat phlegm/mucous
Often, people with allergies also suffer from asthma and skin eczema. Less frequently, they can suffer balance disturbances and swelling in the face or throat tissues. Allergies can also cause nasal polyps, sinus infections, wheezing and more serious complications requiring hospitalization.
What to Do
Dr. Bovenkerk and our staff diagnose, test for, and treat seasonal and other allergies using the latest techniques in our allergy clinic. If you experience allergy-type symptoms, it's best to schedule an appointment to determine the exact cause. Allergies can often be diagnosed without extensive testing, but formal tests — including blood and skin tests — may be necessary.
Allergies can be treated using a variety of options, including:
- Medication (including antihistamines, decongestants, nasal steroid sprays and leukotriene inhibitors)
- Allergy immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots) to reduce your sensitivity to those things that provoke allergy symptoms