SPECIAL FOCUS:
ALLERGY MANAGEMENT

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Allergies are the reaction of our bodies’ immune systems to substances which are normally harmless. These substances can be dust mites, pollen, mold, animal fur, latex, food and insect bites. Allergy symptoms can manifest as rash, hives, itchiness, runny nose and watery eyes. In severe cases, the breathing passageways can swell up and get occluded, e.g., asthma.

 

Allergic reactions happen when your body produces allergic (IgE) antibodies during exposure to a specific allergen. The role of these antibodies is to find the allergens and then help remove them from your body. During this process, a chemical called histamine is released in large amounts and this chemical is the one responsible for the allergic symptoms you experience.

 

Allergy management involves first the detection of the allergens responsible and then deciding on the appropriate control measures based on the type and severity of the symptoms. This includes allergen avoidance, oral medications, nasal sprays, steroid creams and immunotherapy.

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Skin Prick Allergy Test

  • A skin prick allergy test is the most convenient and least expensive method to test for allergies. It helps to identify which inhalant allergens you are allergic to. Results can be determined within 20 to 30 minutes.
     

  • It is helpful to know which inhalant allergens may trigger your allergies to avoid exposure to specific allergens, and reduce or eliminate allergic symptoms with targeted treatment.
     

  • The skin prick test is performed on the forearm with sterile lancets dipped in allergen solution.
     

  • Just a small amount of each allergen is used on outlined sections of the arm.  You may experience mild discomfort or itchiness on the area of exposure that should subside quickly.
     

  • A series of small pricks will be made on the skin of your arm. There is usually little to no pain or bleeding caused by these pricks. If the skin swells in bumps and turns red and itchy, leaving what is known as a wheal, this indicates a positive result for an allergic reaction.
     

  • Sensitivity to the allergens can be measured from the size of these bumps. Results will be observed and interpreted by the doctor or allergy nurse.
     

  • The test is done in the clinic and will be monitored by clinic staff for any severe reactions.
     

  • After the test is concluded, medical cream will be applied in the clinic to soothe the skin. Although uncommon, in the case of a more severe allergic reaction to the allergen, antihistamines may be administered.
     

  • Please do not consume any antihistamine medications for 7 days before the test as they may affect the accuracy of the results.
     

  • You may consider a RAST blood test instead if:

    • you just completed a course of medication that could interfere with the results of the skin prick test.

    • you suffer from eczema or psoriasis on the area used for the skin prick test.

If you would like to find out more about skin prick tests, please contact us here.

 
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Total and Specific Ig E (RAST) Blood Test

  • When you have an allergy, your immune system reacts to an allergen by producing antibodies known as Immunoglobulin E (Ig E). Blood tests can be done for Total or Specific Ig E antibodies.
     

  • These antibodies are specific to an allergen and attach to cells to produce chemicals that cause the allergic reaction. This reaction can cause symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat or on the skin.
     

  • The RAST blood test measures the concentration of specific types of these antibodies in your blood. Depending on the type of test done, you can test for different groups of potential allergens, including inhalants and food allergies.
     

  • The most common allergen category we test for at Euan’s ENT Surgery & Clinic is the Inhalants III panel, which includes house dust mites, epidermals, cockroaches, and cat and dog dander.
     

  • Results will be available in 3-5 working days.
     

  • From the results of this test, specifically tailored treatments will be given based on the individual’s allergy profile.

If you would like to find out more about RAST blood tests, please contact us here.

 
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Immunotherapy (SLIT)

  • If your allergies persist despite avoiding allergens and taking the medications prescribed to you, the doctor can prescribe immunotherapy.
     

  • Immunotherapy challenges the body’s immune system through daily self-administered treatment after your allergens have been identified from your skin prick test or RAST blood test results.
     

  • Over time, immunotherapy will alter your body’s excessive immune response and make you less sensitive to specific allergens. This reduces the severity of symptoms and minimizes the need for long term use of antihistamines and nasal sprays.
     

  • For best and long-lasting results, the recommended duration for treatment is 3 years.
     

  • Immunotherapy can be administered in one of two forms:

    • A solution (wet) with a dropper to instill the drops under the tongue

    • A tablet (dry) to place under the tongue
       

  • This is known as Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) and can be done at home.
     

  • Both SLIT methods are effective in desensitisation. Costs will differ between the wet and dry forms of SLIT.
     

  • Immunotherapy provides a long-lasting relief for patients with allergic rhinitis.

If you would like to find out more about SLIT, please contact us here.

 

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