An allergist can help relieve your allergy symptoms
If you suffer from year-round or seasonal allergies, you may already know that Texas has six cities on the list of the top 100 most challenging places to live with allergies (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 2020).
Baylor Scott & White Health has allergy and immunology specialists (often called allergists) on the medical staff who can help identify allergy triggers and manage symptoms for both children and adults.
Allergies are problems of the immune system. An allergen is anything that causes the body's immune system to release histamine, one of the chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
Most allergic reactions happen when the immune system reacts to a false alarm. Normally, the body defends itself against harmful things, such as viruses or bacteria. But the defenses also attack mild things, so allergy symptoms can be caused by dust, mold, pollen and other environmental triggers at various times of the year (often called seasonal allergies), depending on your sensitivities.
Conditions treated by an allergist
- Allergies (including seasonal allergies)
- Acute and chronic sinusitis
- Chronic cough
- Hives (urticaria)
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Recurring infections
- Food allergies
- Drug allergies
- Allergic reactions to insect stings
Depending on your allergy symptoms, there are several allergy treatment options, including:
Oral antihistamines are medications used to treat allergy symptoms like
- Runny nose
- Common cold
- Itchy throat
- Skin rashes
- Watery or itchy eyes
Some antihistamines also are used to treat anxiety, insomnia and motion sickness.
A decongestant is used to treat symptoms typically caused by the common cold, flu, allergies, or other upper respiratory illnesses (e.g., sinusitis, bronchitis).
Some decongestants require a prescription.
Nasal sprays are used to deliver medications locally in the nasal cavities or systemically to help treat allergy symptoms.
Steroid nasal sprays are used locally for conditions such as nasal congestion and allergic rhinitis.
Proven to be a very effective method for controlling allergy symptoms, traditional allergy shots are covered by insurance, require a 30-minute wait period in the clinic to monitor for reaction and are administered for three to five years for best results.
Cluster allergy shots condense the majority of the buildup phase into just three office visits.
They are covered by insurance, save time on office visits and are as effective as traditional shots at relieving allergy symptoms.
Also called sublingual immunotherapy, allergy drops are self-administered under the tongue until the patient reaches the maximum tolerated dose to treat allergies. They are not yet FDA-approved, and thus are not covered by insurance.
They are ideal for people who cannot tolerate shots and carry a lower reaction risk to some other allergy symptom relief options.
Drop therapy spans three to five years for best results.
Suffering from asthma?
Asthma makes breathing difficult for more than 22 million Americans, but Baylor Scott & White is here to help. If you're living with asthma, an allergist specializing in asthma care can help you manage your asthma symptoms.
To learn more about what an asthma provider can do for you, watch a video of a panel of experts as they discuss asthma topics and provide helpful resources.
Frequently asked questions
What causes common allergies?
People can develop allergies to things in the environment, foods and medications. When you are exposed to something that triggers your immune system, it reacts as if threatened by germs. It overcompensates, releasing inflammatory chemicals that can cause allergy symptoms, like respiratory problems, itching, hives or rashes, watering eyes and nose, sneezing, or digestive problems.
How are allergies diagnosed?
Diagnosis is generally based on allergy symptoms and exposure history to allergens. Skin testing for certain allergens may confirm the diagnosis of some allergies. Allergy testing using blood tests has largely been replaced by skin testing, but may be useful in certain circumstances, such as when a person has a rash.
Can I develop allergies at any age?
Yes, you may develop allergies throughout your life.
If both parents have allergies, will their children have those allergies as well?
Not necessarily. However, genetics does play a role in allergies, and people with an immediate family history of allergies may be at risk for developing allergies.
What is the difference between an allergy and an intolerance?
Whenever an allergy develops, the body produces an allergic protein against the particular allergen (such as pollen, pet dander, food or medication). Any time the body encounters the allergen, an allergic phenomenon occurs that results in an allergic reaction. An intolerance occurs when a food or medication is not well-tolerated, but you still may be able to consume a small amount without triggering an allergic reaction.