What is allergy?
This is a sensitivity, a reaction to something in your environment or something that you have come into contact with. In the nose, this manifests itself as blockage or congestion, runniness, ithcing and/or sneezing. On the skin, this may give you itchiness, wheals (urticaria), or imprints when you scratch called dermographia. In its most severe form, allergy can cause difficulty in breathing (wheeze or stridor) or swelling of your tongue, lips or voice box (anaphylaxis).
How do you find out if you are allergic to something?
Usually, you are in the best position to know if you are allergic to something. This is because contact with an allergen will cause the symtoms described above. You may be allergic to one thing or several things in combination. If you think you are allergic to something, a careful history with your specialist and then an allergy test may identify the cause. A skin-prick allergy test or a blood test (RAST - radioallergosorbent test) may help in your diagnosis.
What commonly causes allergy?
As an ENT specialist, there are certain allergens that I see causing symptoms more commonly than others:
However, there are potentially billions of allergens floating around in the air that you are exposed to on a daily basis. You may be sensitive to mould, nickel or cheap jewelry, or perhaps a chemical that you work with. Although testing usually identifies the cause, as is sometimes the case, you may not get to the bottom of what is causing your particular sensitivity. However, what is most important is that the correct treatment is started to help to control your symptoms.
What treatments are available?
Your treatment depends very much on which of your symptoms causes the most problems. Allergen avoidance is always sensible. A prescribed antihistamine is usually of benefit, and different combinations can be tried. In more severe cases, steroids may be added by your specialist. Surgery to the lining of your nose can provide temporary relief of your blockage and runniness. In some cases, the nerve that makes your nose run can be surgically divided (vidian neurectomy).
What should you do next?
If you would like to discuss your allergy symptoms with Mr Bhalla, please contact Emma (0161 447 6638) for an appointment or, fill out an online booking form.