Allergy testing and treatment
Stop by to find out what you’re allergic to and
what your treatment options are.
What are allergies?
We all know what allergies feel like. If you have seasonal allergies you know it because they drive you crazy giving you a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Every year you know when the elm trees fill out or the grass begins to grow in your Brooklyn neighborhood because your nose and sinus congestion tell you! If you are allergic to foods like peanut butter, you know that too because you may have had a more severe reaction like hives or trouble breathing. But what happens inside our bodies to cause these reactions?
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to something it doesn’t like. Allergies are considered a chronic disease, but don’t let that scare you. It just means that they last a long time or occur frequently. When you are allergic to something, your body’s immune system makes immunoglobulin which is an antibody. The job of the antibody is to respond to things you are allergic to and warn you that your body doesn’t like them. When antibodies do their job you have what we call an allergic reaction.
For example, when pollen gets in your nose your body overreacts by sneezing to try to get rid of the pollen. If you come in contact with a cat and your body doesn’t like that, you may break out in hives or your eyes may become itchy. In worst case scenarios, your body goes overboard to tell you never to ingest a substance again, forcing you into anaphylactic shock- a severe allergic reaction that happens quickly and can involve many parts of the body at one time, including the lungs and the heart.
Anaphylactic shock is very dangerous and may cause death, but usually you have some warning before it gets to that point because it has sent you to the clinician. You know from that point on to avoid whatever caused the severe reaction, and to carry an Epinephrine auto-injector, called Adrenaclick®, EpiPen® or generic epinephrine, for rapid treatment.
Types of allergies
Some allergies last a lifetime and are caused by specific things like peanut butter, bee stings, and pets. Others are seasonal and come and go, like allergies to pollen, trees and grass. The clinicians at AG Urgent Care know that the most common types of allergies are to:
- Certain drugs
- Insects (such as bees, mosquitoes, dust mites)
These allergies can affect different parts of your body. AG Urgent Care allergy specialists in Brooklyn are trained to diagnose and treat these symptoms effectively
Eye allergies: Eye allergies are some of the most common. When something gets into your eyes, and they are allergic to it, the tissue that lines your eyelid becomes swollen, making your eye red, watery and itchy. Your eyes may feel like they have fine dirt in them.
Skin allergies: Like all other allergies, your skin will show signs that it doesn’t like what it has come in contact with but it may take 48 hours. Not all skin allergies show themselves immediately but when it does you may see symptoms that include redness, blisters, itching, hives, rashes and/or cracked skin.
Nasal allergies: Sometimes these are confused with other types of allergies. Many of us say we have “hay fever”. However, there are specific allergens that cause the inside of the nose to become swollen and inflamed. Your nose may cause more and thicker mucus, it may drain down the back of your throat and cause you to cough. You may feel congested, sneeze, have a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
Sinus allergies: Allergies of the sinus are called “Sinusitis”. It is a very specific inflammation of the sinus, a series of four hollow spaces inside the skull. They are lined with the same types of tissue that line your nose. They can become irritated and swollen, just like your nose, when allergens are around. When the sinuses become irritated, mucus discharge increases, and swollen sinuses create pressure inside the head. This is what we call a sinus headache.
How do I know if I have an allergy?
That may seem like a silly question. Usually sneezing, itching or hives will tell you that you are allergic to something. However, it is important to figure out if you have an allergy that is merely aggravating, or something that could indicate a life-threatening allergy. AG Urgent Care allergists can help to diagnose the type and severity of your allergy.
Some allergens you may breathe in, like house dust, mold, cat and dog dander and latex dust. Others you ingest through your mouth like food and medicine. You can also pick up allergens through your skin, like poison ivy and poison oak, latex and beauty products.
Symptoms of allergic reactions vary from person to person and some are indications of a potentially life threatening allergy. We have noted those here with a star and if you experience any of them, call 911 immediately.
- Itchy watery eyes and nose
- Rashes that may include hives
- Diarrhea and vomiting, separately or together
- Stomach cramps
- Tongue swelling
- Throat closing
- Chest tightness
- Feeling faint and/or actually fainting
Come for a quick allergy test
In many cases, the only way you will know if you have a long lasting allergy is to have an allergy test. If eating strawberries repeatedly makes your mouth itch, you should know if that is an allergy that may become worse. If your child breaks out in hives around the holidays, is it nerves or is it an allergy to a traditional holiday food? It’s important to know so that you can be vigilant in avoiding the cause of the allergy.
A & G Allergy specialists perform quick allergy tests for children and adults.
Skin testing, also known as the pin prick test. In this test our clinician will place a small drop of the suspected allergen onto your skin and then scratch the skin through the drop. If you are allergic, then you will develop a reaction at that small site on the skin in about 15 minutes.
Our clinicians will combine this test with your medical history and sometimes a physical exam to come up with the best treatment plan for your allergies.
Allergy Treatment Options
Thankfully, there are many ways to treat allergies. Once you are seen by an A & G allergy specialist, you will have an effective allergy treatment plan that fits your life and work style.
Minor lifestyle changes: Sometimes the most effective allergy treatment is simply to avoid the source of the allergen- the food, the pet or the drug. That may sound too easy, but we all know people who do this regularly. For example, if you are allergic to cats you don’t go near them or visit someone who has them at home, thereby avoiding the allergy. If you are allergic to onions, you don’t eat them. If you are allergic to Penicillin, your clinician doesn’t prescribe it for you.
Immunotherapy: This treatment includes medications taken regularly that are injected or placed under the tongue. For some people with multiple allergies, this is the most effective type of treatment. If a person is allergic to foods, grasses, trees and animals, of course they cannot avoid all of them. The best was to preserve normal daily activities is to have regular immunotherapy. Based on allergy tests, these treatments can be closely matched to specific categories of allergies.
Medicines: Many over-the-counter medications are effective in treating allergies, especially those that are seasonal. There are also prescription medications that our clinicians can prescribe to give you relief from your allergies. They can include:
Nose sprays to relieve runny noses
Antihistamines and decongestants to reduce runny noses, itching, swelling and congestion
Corticosteroid creams or ointments for rashes
Oral corticosteroids prescribed to stop severe allergic reactions
Epinephrine (ep-uh-NEF-rin), comes in a device (commonly called an epi-pen) that allows you to inject a shot of the drug within minutes of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Epinephrine auto-injector options are Adrenaclick®, EpiPen® or generic epinephrine.
You don’t need to suffer.
A & G Urgent Care has centers near your home in Brooklyn so that you can receive rapid allergy care. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, can’t enjoy certain foods, or suspect a more serious allergy may be lurking, it’s time to have a lifelong treatment plan. The allergy specialists at
A & G Urgent Care can ensure that your allergies are effectively treated and that your lifestyle is protected.