According to statistics, allergies affect an estimated 50 million Americans each year, ranking as the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the country.
If you are experiencing symptoms that you suspect to be caused by an allergy, you have one powerful tool that can help you with your condition, and it’s called education. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about allergies to help you get a better understanding of the condition, particularly its potential causes as well as how it is diagnosed and treated.
Q: Am I Too Old to Develop Allergies?
Some allergies develop during childhood, while there are those that occur during adulthood. Adult-onset allergies, which usually affect people in their 20s and 30s, are more common than you think.
It isn’t exactly clear what causes adult-onset allergies, but experts believe these develop as a result of significant changes in the immune system. Also, if you had a severe allergic reaction during childhood, even just a single episode, you have a greater risk of developing adult-onset allergies when you get re-exposed to the same allergen at higher levels.
Q: What Are the Most Common Allergens?
The most common allergens are found either in food or in the environment. Common food allergy triggers include dairy, wheat, soy, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts, while environmental allergies are usually triggered by pollen, dust mites, mold, smoke, and pet dander.
Q: How Are Allergies Diagnosed?
Allergy testing is important to find out what substance/s you are allergic to. Allergy doctors use the following methods to test allergies:
- Skin prick test- With this method, your allergy doctor uses a lancet to prick the skin on your forearm to check for immediate reactions to certain substances. This method is done to pinpoint environmental and food allergens.
- Blood test – This method determines the overall number of IgE antibodies in your blood in response to a particular allergen.
- Oral food challenge – Deemed the gold standard for diagnosing food allergies, oral food challenge is a medically supervised test in which your allergy doctor gives you small amounts of a food containing a suspected allergen on a daily basis.
Q: Do All Allergies Need Treatment?
Without treatment, allergies can result in inflammation and infection, namely sinus infection, which can occur frequently and trigger or exacerbate asthma. Poorly treated allergies can also severely affect quality of life. Without proper diagnosis, there is not knowing what it is that you are allergic to, which is important to avoid an allergy attack.
Q: What Allergy Treatment Options Are Available Right Now?
Allergy treatments include trigger avoidance, medications (e.g., nasal sprays, eye drops, and oral medications), immunotherapy, and emergency epinephrine (for severe allergic reactions).
Immunotherapy involves your allergy doctor introducing small but gradually increasing doses of the suspected allergen over a period of time to train your body to build tolerance to it.
Allergy Doctor in Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville, and Plainfield, IL
At Oak Brook Allergists, our highly credentialed allergy doctors have made a name for themselves for the highly effective solutions they provide for various types of allergies. We offer a wide range of innovative, evidence-based treatment options, helping scores of patients across Illinois live well with or even beat their allergies.
Be one of our satisfied patients today. Call our clinic at (630) 574-0460 or use this appointment request form to schedule a consultation with one of our allergy doctors.