If you have allergies or asthma, you’re probably familiar with symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, coughing and other upper respiratory issues. Dr. Appleyard at Lakeshore Allergy & Asthma Center offers state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma at her offices in Grosse Pointe, Macomb Township and St. Clair Shores. Call 313-885-6367 to schedule an appointment or request one online today for medical care that will relieve your symptoms and help you lead a healthier, more active life.
An allergy is an immune system reaction that causes an inflammatory response to what is normally a benign substance, referred to as an allergen. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, mold spores, animal dander, latex and various foods.
What are allergy symptoms?
Allergy symptoms are often similar to those of a viral cold and an allergy evaluation is important to differentiate between the two. Common symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Sinus pain and pressure
- Nasal drainage
- Itchy or plugged ears
A complete history and physical exam along with allergy skin testing are the mainstays of diagnosis. Occasionally, adjuvant tests such as blood work, sinus imaging or ENT referral for nasal endoscopy are required.
After identifying specific allergy triggers, the first course of action is to create a plan to avoid them. You may also be started on allergy medications including nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, oral and nasal antihistamines, eye drops and saline nasal irrigation.
If avoidance measures and medications are not enough or if your symptoms are severe, you may benefit from immunotherapy, commonly known as allergy shots. This is a series of injections which exposes your body to gradually increasing amounts of allergens resulting in desensitization or tolerance to what you are allergic to. Oral immunotherapy (daily pills) are also available for select allergens in patients younger than 65. Immunotherapy can decrease your symptoms and need for medications.
Asthma is an obstructive lung condition which involves airway inflammation, intermittent airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperactivity. In asthma, the obstruction is at least partially reversible with medication. Triggers of asthma include allergen exposure, exercise, sinusitis or viral URIs, irritant exposure, emotional factors or stress, reflux and aspirin/NSAID hypersensitivity.
What are asthma symptoms?
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Use of stomach or neck muscles to breathe
- An “itchy” feeling or “tickle” in lungs
- Rapid or shallow breathing
The diagnosis of asthma is made by obtaining a detailed medical history and physical exam with particular focus on the lungs. Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) is done in the office to assess lung function and a chest X-Ray, blood work or other studies may be ordered to provide further answers. Allergy skin testing may also be recommended.
There is no cure for asthma, but symptoms can be controlled with medications and lifestyle modifications. All asthmatics should have a rescue inhaler called a short-acting beta-agonist which opens the airways and relieves symptoms. Controller medications help reduce airway inflammation and are taken daily in people who have persistent asthma (symptoms more than 1-2 times a week). These include inhaled corticosteroids with or without long-acting beta-agonists, anticholinergic inhalers and leukotriene modifiers. For patients with certain types of severe asthma, biologic therapy is a possibility which involves injections or infusions of antibodies that target the immune system every 2-4 weeks. Biologics can also be used to treat urticaria (hives) and nasal polyps.
*To learn more about Lakeshore Allergy & Asthma Center, click HERE to visit our Specialties page. Call 313-885-6367 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Appleyard at either the Grosse Pointe or Macomb Township office or request one online. We look forward to treating you!