Allergies & Allergy Treatment in Santa Monica & Torrance CA
What are Allergies?
Allergies are abnormal responses of your immune system to substances called allergens. Allergens are normally harmless. Some of the most common allergens that affect the ear, nose, and throat are pollen, dust, mold and animal dander. When our body is exposed to allergens, it reacts by releasing a variety of chemicals, including histamine, which causes the allergic reaction.
If you suffer from allergies in Santa Monica CA, Torrance CA and surrounding ares and would like to learn more about your allergy treatment options, contact us today to schedule an appointment.
What Causes Allergies?
The precise cause of allergies remains unknown, but a hereditary factor is involved. If one parent has allergies, their child is likely to also have allergies. If both parents suffer from allergies, a child has a much greater risk of developing an allergy. The specific allergy that the child suffers from may differ from the one affecting the parent. Allergies can also develop over time once a threshold of exposure has been reached.
What are Symptoms of Allergies?
Most allergic reactions involving the ear, nose, and throat are relatively mild, but they can still interfere with everyday activities. Allergy symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and post-nasal drip caused by nasal rhinitis. Patients with allergies can also experience headaches, itching, and soreness of the throat or ears. More severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis, are rare, but they can be life-threatening. Given that ENT allergies are reactions to airborne allergens, you may also experience an allergic reaction in your eyes, skin, lungs or gastrointestinal tract.
How are Allergies Diagnosed?
At Daneshrad Clinic ENT, we use Modified Quantitative Testing to diagnose your offending allergens. This is a two-part skin test. First, concentrated allergens are applied to the outer skin through a skin prick-testing device. Once we have those results, we move to the second step, Intradermal Dilution Testing. This involves placing a small amount of diluted allergens just under the surface of the skin.
We will combine the results of both tests and create an immunotherapy treatment plan. If the results from the skin test are inconclusive, we will use a blood test that measures the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your bloodstream. Contact us today to learn more about allergy testing.
What Allergy Treatment Options are Available?
The most effective allergy treatment is simply to avoid exposure to allergens. However, this is not always possible. For outdoor allergies, remaining indoors during certain seasons can help to relieve symptoms. Due to the fact that allergens often enter the body through the eyes, wraparound sunglasses may also be helpful. Other allergy treatments include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops. Allergy shots, a type of immunotherapy, may also be used as treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have allergies or if it is just a cold?
Allergies and colds can have similar symptoms, but they are completely different in the causes behind them. Plus, the symptoms vary in type and duration.Similarities in symptoms are: runny nose, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, post-nasal drip, and red eyes.
Differences can be harder to identify: itchy and watery eyes are usually allergy related; a fever (which can accompany a severe cold for a day) is not an allergy symptom; a sore throat is usually only very light with allergies, more scratchy than painful; body aches don’t come from allergies; and eczema is not a cold symptom.
When you’re unsure if you’re just dealing with another annoying cold, or you have an allergy that needs addressing, look at certain details:
- Speed of Symptoms — Cold symptoms usually develop over a day or two. Allergies seem to develop immediately.
- Length of Symptoms — Colds usually don’t last more than a week or so. Allergies run the course of exposure to the allergen.
- Predictable Symptoms — If you have symptoms every June, when a certain tree pollinates, you know it’s an allergy.
- Itchy Eyes — Colds don’t usually cause itchy or watery eyes, and they never cause a skin reaction like eczema.
What risks are involved in allergy treatments?
Most people have no trouble with allergy shots, but they do introduce a small amount of the allergen into the patient’s system, so they can cause a reaction. These are possible reactions:
- Local Reactions — Redness, swelling, or irritation at the injection site. They usually happen within a few hours, but pass soon thereafter.
- Systemic Reactions — These are rare, but more serious. The patient develops sneezing, nasal congestion, or hives. In more serious cases, there may be chest tightness, throat swelling, or wheezing.
- Anaphylaxis — This is a very rare, but life-threatening reaction. It can cause low blood pressure and trouble breathing. This reaction usually begins within 30 minutes of having the shot.
- Sinusitis and Ear Infections — Introduction of allergens can create sinus and ear infections.
What plants typically cause allergies?
Pollen is the usual culprit for plant-caused allergies. If your allergies come on in the fall, then it is probably due to a fall pollinator, such as tumbleweed. If they are in the spring, it could be due to trees such as oaks or various grasses.
Here are some common allergen producers:
- Trees — birch, elm, cedar, oak, pine, cottonwood, walnut
- Weeds — English plantain, lamb’s quarters, ragweed, redroot pigweed, sagebrush, tumbleweed
- Grasses — All grasses, from St. Augustine in the south to bluegrass everywhere else, can cause allergies
The most common of the above list is ragweed. Ragweed grows everywhere and its pollen season runs from August to November. Hot, dry, windy days during that period make ragweed the enemy of many an allergy sufferer.
Will moving improve my allergies?
If you live in an area that is prone to conditions that exacerbate your allergies, then moving would improve things. For instance, a move from the dusty Southwest to the wetter Northwest could help. But that does seem a bit extreme. Unless moving is something you would want to pursue for other reasons, such as a job change, it would be better to try and treat your allergy condition with the team at the Daneshrad Clinic. We can provide allergy shots and help you to develop immunity to the offending allergens.
Can an adult develop allergies even if you didn’t have them as a child?
Yes. Many people had no allergies as children but suddenly, at age 45, they now have allergic reactions every time the oak tree out front pollinates. Scientists don’t understand why a person can go through his or her life without reacting to a specific allergen and then suddenly one day your body views it as an invader and responds by releasing histamines and causing allergy symptoms.
To learn more about allergies and allergy treatment options at the Daneshrad Clinic, call 310-453-6500 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule an appointment. We proudly serve patients from Santa Monica, Torrance, Los Angeles and surrounding areas.