Nasal allergic symptoms are experienced by up to one third of southeastern residents of the United States. The symptoms generally include sneezing, itching and/or watering eyes and nose, clear nasal discharge and nasal stuffiness. They may be associated with specific exposures, i.e. dog, cat or seasons as in pollen allergies, or may be year round. Allergies may also predispose an individual to sinus infections.
If a cause of symptoms can be identified, avoidance of the triggering agent is always the best treatment. If a cause cannot be found, or avoidance is impossible or impractical, medications may be prescribed. Antihistamines are the most frequently prescribed medication. Nasal steroid and antihistamine nose sprays in conjunction with nasal saline spray and/or nasal saline irrigations are also frequently recommended. Other agents such as decongestants and mucus-thinning agents called mucolytics may help nasal stuffiness and thick nasal secretions associated with nasal allergies. In selected individuals, a class of anti-inflammatory agents called Leukotriene inhibitors is helpful as well. However, when their symptoms are poorly controlled by medication or require so many medications, some allergy sufferers may require desensitization through allergy shots or sublingual immunotheraphy.
Many patients prefer immunotheraphy over drugs because of the side effects of the drugs. Skin tests are most frequently used to find out what substance or allergen trigger an allergic response in a person. In some instances, testing can be performed on a blood sample. This is called RAST testing and may be suitable for persons who cannot undergo skin testing, such as children.
Allergy shots are the most specific treatment available, and they are highly successful in allergic patients. The physician determines the best concentration for initiating the treatment. These treatments are given by injection once or twice weekly at the physician’s office. They work by forming blocking antibodies in the patient's blood stream, which then interfere with the allergic reaction.
For those who are unable or unwilling to undergo desensitization through allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy may be indicated. Instead of antigen being administered through a shot by a health professional in the office, the allergen is administered daily by the patient (or parent) under the tongue using a dropper. The first treatment each month is done in the office, and then the rest of the treatments are done by the patient at home.
Memorial Village ENT has been performing sublingual immunotherapy and allergy shots as part of its comprehensive management of allergy and sinus patients for over ten years.
Memorial Village ENT suggests the following information sources:
Allergy Shots and Sublingual Immunotheraphy:
Providing both Allergy Shots and Sublingual Immunotheraphy
Most procedures completed in-office