Allergies develop when the immune system responds to a harmless foreign substance by producing antibodies, signaling to the body that a specific allergen is harmful.
When you come into contact with the substance again, your immune system believes it is in danger and responds accordingly – inflaming your skin, sinuses, airways or digestive system. While the vast majority of allergies cannot be cured, they can be successfully treated and managed by among the best allergy doctors Orange County has available at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles.
Allergy symptoms may be mild or severe, and how they affect you will depend on the specific allergen involved. For example, if you suffer from:
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
You may experience sneezing, red and watery eyes, and a runny or stuffy nose. In addition, your nose, eyes and the roof of your mouth may itch.
You may experience a tingling mouth, hives and anaphylaxis. In addition, your lips, tongue, face and throat may swell.
Insect sting allergies
You may experience itching, hives, cough, chest tightness, wheezing, breathlessness, anaphylaxis and/or swelling at the site of the sting.
You may experience hives, itching, rash, wheezing, anaphylaxis and swelling of the face.
Your skin may itch, become red, flake or peel.
you may experience red skin, irritated eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and wheezing.
You may experience sneezing, congestion, irritated eyes, a runny nose and coughing.
Animal dander allergies
You may experience sneezing, congestion and irritated eyes.
Medication allergies (such as penicillin or aspirin)
You may experience a skin rash, hives, irritated eyes, upset stomach and lightheadedness. In serious cases, medication allergies may also lead to anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to an allergen. It can cause a loss of consciousness, a significant drop in blood pressure, severe breathlessness, rash, nausea, vomiting and a rapid pulse. If you or your child experiences symptoms associated with anaphylaxis, call 911 for emergency help. Once the anaphylaxis has been treated, it’s important to seek among the best allergy treatment Los Angeles has available to prevent future attacks and achieve long-term control over your allergies.
How are allergies diagnosed?
If you suspect you or your child suffers from allergies, it’s important to make an appointment with among the best allergy doctors Orange County has available at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles for a definitive diagnosis. During the appointment, our allergist will first collect information about your medical history and symptoms, before performing a full physical examination. Depending on our findings, we may order very specific tests to confirm a diagnosis, including:
Skin prick test
During this test, we will introduce a very small amount of a specific allergen into the skin. This will elicit a small hive at the site of the test if you are in fact allergic. This test is extremely accurate, and can be performed on both young children and adults.
Allergy blood test
During this test, we will determine how your immune system responds to a specific allergen by measuring the amount of antibodies in your bloodstream.
Another option for immunotherapy is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). SLIT uses the same principles of build-up and desensitization to allergens. However, SLIT is administered as drops under the tongue instead of injections in the arm. This provides a lower risk of serious allergic reactions and allows SLIT (unlike SCIT) to be administered safely at home instead of in the physician's office.
How are allergies treated?
Because allergies are triggered by known irritants, one of the best ways to treat your allergies is to avoid your triggers. There are a number of ways to avoid exposure, and our specialists at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles will work with you closely to create a plan that works for your lifestyle. We may also recommend oral allergy medications, nasal sprays or eye drops to lessen your symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you have severe allergies, we may prescribe an emergency epinephrine shot to reduce the symptoms of a serious allergic reaction until you’re able to get to the emergency room.
If avoiding the known allergy and the above medications are not enough to get your allergies under control, we may also recommend allergen immunotherapy. Also known as allergy shots, this long-term treatment involves injecting small amounts of a particular allergen into your body, gradually increasing the dose until you develop immunity or greater tolerance to the trigger.
Home environment control
Much can be done to combat airborne allergens through home environment control. Dust mites are a common allergen, particularly in children. To make the interior environment less of a challenge, removing materials that provide homes to dust mites is usually the first strategy.
Your allergy doctor will provide you with suggestions concerning floor and window coverings as well as bedding and furniture. Los Angeles is a dry and dust filled environment. Taking steps to keep interiors free of particles is well worth the time, expense and effort.
Avoid using feather fillings in pillows or comforters. Using polyester filled pillows and other bedding does not give dust mites a place to hide. Additionally, encasing pillows, mattresses and box springs in special zippered covers reduces the impact of dust mites.
Polyester fillers are easily laundered. For best results, all bedding used by those suffering with allergy should be laundered once a week in hot water, at least 130°F or 50°C. Laundromats usually keep their hot water temperatures high and can be a safer alternative to maintaining high water temperatures at home. Your allergy doctor will advise you on the most successful protocol to use for your particular case.
Floors & Windows
Carpeted floors are one of the favorite environments for mites and dust. Hard surfaces on floors are easy to clean and will effectively reduce the volume of dust and mites in the household. Your personal allergy doctor will ask you questions about your home. Orange County has a varied climate and for those nearer the beach, the dust mite problem may not be as severe as for those living further inland where it is less humid.
In any case, the sleeping area in particular should be kept free of upholstered furniture, carpets or rugs and fabric curtains. Mini-blinds are another favorite home of dust and dust mites. Alternative window coverings are roll up blinds, preferably composed of vinyl or plastic, and washable curtains.
Maintaining a dust free home
In Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, it isn’t possible to have a completely dust free home. The climate in the area is semi-desert and even in the beach areas of Orange County, dust and dust mites are constantly gaining entry to our homes, schools and work environments. Working with an allergy doctor will involve strategies on how to get as close to dust and mite free as possible so that relief can be obtained on a more predictable level.
Weekly cleaning helps to keep the population of dust and mites down to a manageable level. When vacuuming, use a machine with a HEPA filter if possible. Allergy doctors recommend these as they keep dust and allergens from being re-circulated into the environment.
Wash curtains and any small throw rugs such as those found in the bathroom, once a week in hot water. Again a Laundromat might be a great option especially for heavier items. Hard surfaces should be washed, including floors, window shades, bed frames and any surfaces that collect dust.
To keep the workload down, avoid decorating a bedroom with stuffed animals and for the rest of the home, reducing the number of dust catching items such as books, decorative items, dried or silk flowers etc, will greatly improve the quality of interior air.
If you or your child suffers from allergies, please know that relief is possible in Long Beach with expert care from among the best allergy doctors Los Angeles has available at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment, and let us help you control your symptoms, prevent future attacks and get your allergies under control.Contact Us