Allergies Treatments

Allergies Treatments

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    What is oral immunotherapy?
    Oral immunotherapy involves eating small amounts of the allergic food and building up a tolerance to it over time. Jessica Savage, MD, Clinical & Laboratory Immunologist at Brigham and Women's hospital explains this breakthrough allergy treatment.
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    Sublingual immunotherapy, a method for treating allergies, can be given via injections or oral drops. The advantages to the drops are:

    • Convenience - patients can take the drops on their own, from home, rather than go to the doctor's office every week for injections
    • Cost - when compared with the cost of allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy may be a more economical choice
    • Safe and effective - sublingual immunotherapy is safe for adults and children, and scientific studies have shown that it significantly reduces allergy symptoms.
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    A , Emergency Medicine, answered
    If you see someone having an allergic reaction:

    •  Do not pick up animals that can bite or sting.
    •  Do not rub or squeeze irritated area.
    •  Do not apply a tourniquet.
    •  Do not squeeze out a stinger.
    •  Do not harass or tease any animals.
    •  Do not elevate body part that has been bitten or stung.
    •  Do not stop person from taking own medication for allergic reaction.
    •  Do not give the victim anything by mouth other than their allergy medication.
    •  Do not make a victim vomit after eating food that he or she is allergic to.
    •  If reaction is severe, get medical help immediately.
    •  Identify the allergen.
    •  Help the victim administer own medication for allergic reaction.
    •  Monitor for responsiveness and breathing.
    •  Monitor and treat for shock if present.
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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    The first major advantage allergists such as ourselves offer is that we are up on the latest medications targeted at specific conditions. We read the literature on trials, we go to the meetings where these drugs are presented, and we talk with the people at the companies that produce them.

    So chances are we have the latest weapons in our arsenal, whereas a busy GP, who has to keep up with developments in a broad array of specialties, won't.

    Second of all, because we know the strengths and weaknesses of the full allergy pharmacopoeia, we recognize that there are certain trailing-edge medications that still have their uses for limited purposes.

    Another advantage of the allergist's approach to using medications is that we are aware of the chemistry behind a particular medicine and thus might use it in ways that are not enumerated in the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR) or on the literature from the manufacturer.
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    A , Dermatology, answered
    To treat allergic skin, look for petrolatum, glycerin, sodium PCA, sodium hyaluronate, and urea in the skin care products used.
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    A Allergy & Immunology, answered on behalf of
    Allergists and ENTs (ear, nose and throat specialists) are different medical specialists.

    An allergist is a board-certified allergy/immunology specialist who goes through a full internal medicine or pediatric residency (three years), plus an additional two years dedicated only to the study of allergy/immunology based problems. Allergists are the right choice for the following situations:
    • You want the full range of medication options for treatment.
    • You want access to all types of immunotherapy and want to use the nationally standardized immunotherapy protocols.
    • You are unsure if you have an allergy and are curious to know your options.
    • You do not want surgery or want to look at other options before surgery.
    • You have questions about asthma, about food allergy (or food allergy verus food intolerance), eczema, cough, medication allergy or insect allergies.
    An ENT is trained as a head and neck surgeon. ENTs are the right choice in the following situations:
    • You need a sinus surgery (or any other head/neck surgery).
    • You need help with structural problems, including narrow passages or a broken nose.
    • Medication is not helping your symptoms and a surgical option is possible.
    Overall, remember that a good allergist should refer to an ENT if appropriate and a good ENT should refer to an allergist if appropriate.
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    A answered

    The first step to working with your doctor is to be sure he or she has all the information needed to treat your allergies effectively. Use these seven strategies before, during and after all your doctor visits:

    • Keep a detailed journal of your symptoms and share the information with your doctor.
    • Prepare a written list of questions before each doctor’s appointment.
    • Learn everything you can about the different kinds of allergy medications and their side effects, including antihistamines, decongestants, saline drops and corticosteroid nasal sprays.
    • Tell your doctor which medications you currently take (and have taken in the past) and how well they work. Report any side effects, and include in your discussion the doses and time of day you take your meds.
    • Be honest if you're inconsistent about taking your meds, or if you frequently switch from one allergy medication to another. Ask your doctor how long you should stick to a particular treatment before deciding it is -- or isn't -- working for you.
    • Ask about other treatments, such as immunotherapy (allergy shots), trigger-avoidance strategies, alternative therapies and self-care techniques.
    • Also ask whether you need allergy testing (or retesting) to more accurately pinpoint your triggers and to help your doctor determine the appropriate medication.

    Once your doctor tailors a new regimen for you, follow it to the letter and maintain your symptom diary. If after a time the new plan isn't working, ask your doctor to adjust it again. It may take a bit of trial and error before you find the right combination of medication, self-care and trigger-avoidance strategies to fully relieve your allergy symptoms.







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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    The effectiveness of allergy treatment, like the management of any other chronic disease, rises and falls with the patient's adherence to a routine. Immunotherapy is no different than any other kind of regimen in this respect, which is a shame since it is the only therapy that offers relief from routine. That is, it changes the body in ways that make it easier to live a regular life -- by eating more foods, taking part in more activities, and enjoying different environments without constantly worrying about allergies and taking medications.

    There is no denying, however, that some people find the weekly or monthly routine of dropping around to the doctor for a shot intolerable.

    We have done all we could: We have combined the sera for multiple allergies into a single shot. We have reduced the frequency from weekly to monthly, where possible. We prepare months of treatments in advance and provide them to patients' primary care physicians if it's more convenient to go to the general practitioner (GP) or pediatrician than to come to our offices. Yet, even that is too much for some.
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    A , Allergy & Immunology, answered
    The latest wrinkle in treating allergies is called sublingual immunotherapy, which goes by the somewhat creepy acronym SLIT. Sublingual means "under the tongue." SLIT is used more often in Europe than it is in the U.S., which we suspect may be due in part to the fact that the acronym doesn't have the same connotations that it does here. Regardless, we still have a long regulatory road ahead before it gains the same level of use here as across the Atlantic. Efficacy for more than the current limited number of allergens will also have to be proven before we use it more widely.

    The idea of sublingual immunotherapy is attractive, especially for pediatric allergists. We would have to give fewer of those painful shots. There's also the fact that it could be taken at home, which would save the health care system money.
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    A , Family Medicine, answered
    There are so many allergy remedies out there, including antihistamines, decongestants, and expectorants. It's often tough to figure out when to take which drug. Here are the basics:
    • Decongestants simply narrow the blood vessels in the lining of the nose, allowing air to pass more easily. Use these when your nose is stopped up. Caution: do not use if you have high blood pressure, as they can potentially raise your pressure.
    • Antihistamines block the release of histamine, the chemical in your body that causes cells to swell and leak fluid, resulting in itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose. Use these to dry up, but not when you are simply stuffy.
    • Expectorants are all medications that include guaifenesin. This drug breaks up mucus, allowing it to drain down from sinuses or be coughed up from your lungs. It won't work if you are dehydrated, so drink extra water, especially if you are also taking an antihistamine, because they dry up mucus and that makes it tougher to break up and clear. Use these when you have sinus and ear pressure or if you have a cold that seems to settle in your chest. There is little evidence-based medicine to support the use of these, but clinically doctors see them do a great deal to relieve head congestion and help avoid the use of antibiotics.