Taking a Holistic Approach to Allergies

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Today, many allergy specialists take a holistic approach, diagnosing and treating patients comprehensively and using tests and procedures that are highly sensitive and effective.

Allergy season hit early and hard this spring. An unusually warm winter caused trees, bushes and grasses to flower early, filling the air with pollen weeks ahead of schedule. The waiting rooms of allergy specialists are filled with patients suffering from a runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, facial pressure, fatigue, cough, and other allergy symptoms that are making them miserable.

Today, many allergy specialists take a holistic approach, diagnosing and treating patients comprehensively and using tests and procedures that are highly sensitive and effective. One diagnostic tool is intradermal dilution testing (IDT), a type of skin test that helps pinpoint the causes of allergies and determine how severe they are. The results of this test aid allergists in determining the appropriate treatment, including dosage for monthly allergy shots to control symptoms. The RAST (radioallergosorbent test) blood test is an alternative test for diagnosing allergies that may be more suitable for young children and people on certain medications such as beta-blockers and antihistamines.

Intranasal endoscopy is an advanced procedure that helps specialists determine whether common allergy symptoms like nasal blockage and recurrent sinus infections actually are being caused by changes inside the nose rather than allergies. Patients who have nasal abnormalities may need surgery to correct a structural problem in the nostril, septum, or sinus. Balloon sinuplasty, a new procedure, can open narrow sinus passages in a more gentle way that doesn't require cutting into the sinus.

The objective of today’s allergy treatments is to reduce a person’s sensitivity to allergens while also making them more comfortable and ensuring that they can breathe. Standard treatment includes immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots that reduces the immune system's reactivity against allergens. An appointment for allergy shots takes only 10 minutes and can be done on a walk-in basis. In addition, an allergy specialist may recommend nasal sprays or inhalers to aid breathing, antihistamines to control allergic reactions, inhalable steroids to reduce inflammation, and other medications that help control symptoms.

It is impossible to predict whether this year’s allergy season will pass quickly or linger into the summer months. Allergy sufferers should visit a specialist for comprehensive diagnosis and treatment rather than wait to find out if the season will get better or worse.

Mark S. Driver, MD, an otolaryngologist at Hudson Valley Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT), specializes in surgical and non-surgical treatments for patients with allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, esophageal reflux, and thyroid disease. For more information of allergy treatments provided by Hudson Valley ENT, please visit http://www.hudsonvalleyent.com.

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Kimberly Sawicki
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