Over 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies at any given time, making it the sixth leading cause of chronic illness among Americans of all ages. Allergy occurrence is also on the rise, meaning an ever-increasing number of people will develop them each year.
Dealing with persistent allergy symptoms can leave you feeling exhausted and ineffective for weeks, months, or even years on end, depending on the nature and severity of your problem. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here at Premier Primary Care, we offer comprehensive allergy testing to determine the scope and severity of your problem. Led by Dr. James Batey, our team here in Union City, Tennessee, provides fully customized treatment solutions that aim to help you gain the upper hand over your allergies for good. Here’s what you should know.
Allergies occur when your immune system erroneously perceives a benign substance like dust, pollen, animal dander, insect venom, or food as a harmful invader. Any substance that triggers an overreaction in your immune system is called an allergen.
When your immune system comes in contact with the substance it deems hazardous, it floods your body with histamines in an attempt to eradicate the invader and protect your health. This process is what generates the many possible symptoms of an allergic reaction.
While many people develop allergies during childhood, the problem can emerge at any age or stage of life — even older adults can develop a new allergy after a lifetime of being allergy-free. Most people with allergies have more than one type.
The first step in taking control of your allergies is establishing the nature and severity of your problem. Without an accurate and complete diagnosis, there’s no way to know exactly what you’re allergic to or how intense your reactions may be to specific allergens.
To get to the bottom of your allergy problem as quickly and methodically as possible, we start with a comprehensive physical exam and health history review, including a detailed discussion of your allergy symptoms.
Skin testing is generally the easiest, quickest, and most accurate way to diagnose allergies. During skin testing, we place a drop of liquid that contains a common allergen on your forearm, then lightly prick or scratch your skin through the drop. We also offer needle-free skin testing that uses brush-like tips to expose your skin to allergens more comfortably.
If you’re sensitive to the allergen, the test site turns red, itchy, or swollen within 15 minutes. The test site may also develop a round, raised bump that looks like a hive. The larger the bump, the more likely you are to be allergic to the allergen.
If you have a chronic skin condition like eczema, blood testing may be your best diagnostic option. Blood testing is also recommended when a suspected allergen may be more likely to cause an intense reaction during a skin test.
While a negative allergy test usually means you’re not allergic to the substance, a positive result isn’t a diagnosis in and of itself — it’s a tool that helps our team pinpoint the underlying cause of your symptoms with as much accuracy as possible.
Allergies may be a chronic condition, but the right management plan can help you reduce your risk of having a reaction and provide quick and complete symptom relief when you do come in contact with an allergen.
Although your specific allergies are what determine your personal treatment plan, virtually all plans include avoidance strategies to help you stay away from known allergens or at least minimize your contact with pervasive, often inescapable environmental allergens like pollen and dust.
Having a concrete plan of action in the event of an allergic reaction is also a fundamental part of effective allergy management. Often, this means keeping an antihistamine, decongestant, or some other type of medication on hand to counteract a reaction and alleviate symptoms.
If you have a severe food or insect allergy that puts you at risk for anaphylaxis, you’ll need to keep an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times. In addition to learning exactly how to use this life-saving medicine, it’s important to know when to call 9-1-1.
If you suffer from environmental allergies like pollen, mold, dust mites, or animal dander, your long-term allergy management plan may include immunotherapy, an innovative treatment that gradually builds your tolerance to a specific allergen until you no longer experience symptoms.
If you’re ready to get your allergies under control for good, we can help. Call our Union City, Tennessee, office today, or book online to schedule a visit with one of our allergy experts any time.