Information About Diagnostic and Treatment Services at Port Huron Allergy and Asthma Clinic
- Drug Allergy
- Food Allergy
- Sting Allergy
- Urticaria (Hives)
- Allergy Immunization
- Chronic Dermatitis
- Skin Allergy
- Pediatric Allergy
- Adult Allergy
An allergy describes the body’s reaction after being exposed to a substance to which it is allergic.
Triggers of Allergies
A substance that triggers an allergic reaction is called an allergen. An allergen may be harmless to most people, but lead to severe allergic reactions in others.
There are many different allergens, but the most common are pollens (such as grass or trees), dust mites, mold spores, foods (egg, milk, nuts, seafood), pet dander (cats, dogs or birds) insect stings, latex and medications.
Some allergy symptoms occur year-round (perennial allergies). These include those triggered by indoor allergens, such as dust mites and mold. Other allergies occur only at certain times of year (seasonal allergies). These are usually due to allergens that come and go with the season, such as pollens.
- Pollen Allergens
- Dust Mite Allergens
- Mold Allergens
- Animal Allergens (Pet Dander)
- Food Allergens
- Insect Sting Allergens
- Medication Allergens
- Latex Allergens
Symptoms of Allergies
- Allergic Conjunctivitis: When the eyes react to allergens, it is called allergic conjunctivitis (“eye allergies”). The eyes may start to itch, turn red and produce excessive tears.
- Allergic Rhinitis: When the nasal passages (nose and sinuses) react to allergens, it is called allergic rhinitis. The symptoms include itching, nasal congestion and increased mucus production (runny nose).
- Hives: Allergy symptoms may also arise on the skin in the form of itchy, red patches known as hives (urticaria).
- Asthma: Allergies can also trigger an asthma attack in those with underlying asthma. This is called allergic asthma and results in coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Itching, and the rapid onset of symptoms are suggestive of a possible allergy. If necessary, allergy tests can be performed to distinguish allergies from other medical conditions.
Depending on the severity and duration of symptoms, it may be helpful to identify the specific allergen to which someone is allergic. This can be performed through skin allergy tests or blood tests (RAST).
1. Skin Tests for Allergies
Skin tests provide rapid results and can cost less than allergy blood tests. However, young children may resist the test and some medications, such as antihistamines, can interfere with allergy skin test results. Speak to your doctor about whether you may need to stop any medications prior to allergy skin testing.
- Skin Prick Test
- Intradermal Skin Test
- Skin Patch Testing
2. Blood Tests for Allergies
Blood tests are helpful because they involve a single needle prick and medications do not interfere with the results. However, it takes time to get the results and they usually cost more than skin tests. There are many types of allergy blood tests and some types are more helpful than others.
3. Food Challenge Test
A food challenge test is performed to determine which food(s) may cause a food allergy and the amount it takes to trigger the reaction. Foods that commonly trigger food allergies include nuts (peanuts), shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat and soy.
During a food challenge test, the suspected food is eaten while being closely monitored for allergy symptoms and under the supervision of medical personnel that can administer emergency treatment, such as epinephrine for anaphylaxis.
4. Patch Testing for Skin Allergies
A patch test is a common test used to determine what is triggering an allergic reaction on the skin. This allergic reaction is referred to as allergic contact dermatitis.
During the test, different potential allergens are applied to the skin in the medical office and then left in place to give the skin time to react. Your doctor will select allergens that are suspected to be possible triggers of the rash.
- Antihistamine, oral
- Antihistamine, nasal spray
- Antihistamine, ophthalmic
- Corticosteroid, nasal spray
- Corticosteroid, ophthalmic
- Cromolyn, nasal spray (Nasalcrom®)
- Decongestants, nasal (oxymetazoline)
- Decongestants, oral (phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine)
2. Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)
Allergen immunotherapy, or “allergy shots,” may be recommended to decrease a person’s sensitivity to specific allergens. Allergy shots involve injecting increasing amounts of an allergen to a patient over several months or years. Each shot contains a tiny amount of the allergen, just enough to stimulate the body’s immune system, but not enough to cause a full-blown allergic reaction.
3. Risk of Anaphylaxis
Some people with allergies are at risk of developing a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. People at risk of developing anaphylaxis may be advised to have access to injectable epinephrine, such as Epipen® or Twinject® auto-injectors, and to wear a medical bracelet with information about their allergies.
- BCBS Illinois
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Commercial Insurance Company
- Coventry Health Care
- Health Alliance
- NGS American
- United Health Care