What kind of doctor for food allergies
Dr. Sarita Patil, an allergist with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Allergy Associates in Boston, talked to Live Science about strategies for outdoor lovers with seasonal allergies.
Patil suggested figuring out exactly what type of pollen you’re allergic to, and then avoiding planning outdoor activities during peak pollinating times in the months when those plants are in bloom. Numerous grasses, for example, typically pollinate in tardy spring and early summer and release most of their spores in the afternoon and early evening.
Her other strategies: Be capable to identify the pollen perpetrator by sight; monitor pollen counts before scheduling outdoor time; go exterior at a time of day when the plants that make you go achoo are not pollinating; and wear protective gear love sunglasses, among other tips.
[7 Strategies for Outdoor Lovers with Seasonal Allergies]
Allergy sufferers may also select to combat symptoms with medication designed to shut below or trick the immune sensitivity in the body. Whether over-the-counter or prescription, most allergy pills work by releasing chemicals into the body that bind naturally to histamine — the protein that reacts to the allergen and causes an immune response — negating the protein’s effect.
Other allergy remedies attack the symptoms at the source.
Nasal sprays contain athletic ingredients that decongest by soothing irritated blood vessels in the nose, while eye drops both moisturize and reduce inflammation. Doctors may also prescribe allergy shots, Josephson said.
For kids, allergy medications are tricky. A 2017 nationally representative poll of parents with kids between ages 6 and 12 found that 21% of parents said they had trouble figuring out the correct dose of allergy meds for their child; 15% of parents gave a kid an adult form of the allergy medicine, and 33% of these parents also gave their kid the adult dose of that medicine.
Doctors may also recommend allergy shots, a neti pot that can rinse the sinuses, or a Grossan Hydropulse — an irrigating system that cleans the nose of pollens, infection and environmental irritants, Josephson said.
Alternative and holistic options, along with acupuncture, may also assist people with hay fever, Josephson said.
People can also avoid pollen by keeping their windows closed in the spring, and by using air purifiers and air conditioners at home.
Probiotics may also be helpful in stopping those itchy eyes and runny noses. A 2015 review published in the journal International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology found that people who suffer from hay fever may benefit from using probiotics, or «good bacteria,» thought to promote a healthy gut. Although the jury is still out on whether probiotics are an effective treatment for seasonal allergies, the researchers noted that these gut bacteria could hold the body’s immune system from flaring up in response to allergens — something that could reduce allergy symptoms.
[5 Myths About Probiotics]
This article was updated on April 30, 2019, by Live Science Contributor Rachel Ross.
What is food allergy testing?
A food allergy is a condition that causes your immune system to treat a normally harmless type of food as if was a dangerous virus, bacteria, or other infectious agent. The immune system response to a food allergy ranges from mild rashes to abdominal pain to a life-threatening complication called anaphylactic shock.
Food allergies are more common in children than adults, affecting about 5 percent of children in the United States.
Numerous children outgrow their allergies as they get older. Almost 90 percent of every food allergies are caused by the following foods:
- Tree nuts (including almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews)
For some people, even the tiniest quantity of the allergy-causing food can trigger life-threatening symptoms. Of the foods listed above, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and fish generally cause the most serious allergic reactions.
Food allergy testing can discover out whether you or your kid has a food allergy.
If a food allergy is suspected, your primary care provider or your child’s provider will probably refer you to an allergist. An allergist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma.
Other names: IgE test, oral challenge test
The most common allergen is pollen, a powder released by trees, grasses and weeds that fertilize the seeds of neighboring plants.
As plants rely on the wind to do the work for them, the pollination season sees billions of microscopic particles fill the air, and some of them finish up in people’s noses and mouths.
Spring bloomers include ash, birch, cedar, elm and maple trees, plus numerous species of grass. Weeds pollinate in the tardy summer and drop, with ragweed being the most volatile.
The pollen that sits on brightly colored flowers is rarely responsible for hay fever because it is heavier and falls to the ground rather than becoming airborne.
Bees and other insects carry flower pollen from one flower to the next without ever bothering human noses.
Mold allergies are diverse. Mold is a spore that grows on rotting logs, dead leaves and grasses. While dry-weather mold species exist, numerous types of mold thrive in moist, rainy conditions, and release their spores overnight.
During both the spring and drop allergy seasons, pollen is released mainly in the morning hours and travels best on dry, warm and breezy days.
Tests & diagnosis
A physician will consider patient history and act out a thorough physical examination if a person reports having hay-fever-like symptoms. If necessary, the physician will do an allergy test. According to the Mayo Clinic, people can get a skin-prick test, in which doctors prick the skin on a person’s arm or upper back with diverse substances to see if any cause an allergic reaction, such as a raised bump called a hive. [7 Strange Signs You’re Having an Allergic Reaction]
Blood tests for allergies are also available.
This test rates the immune system’s response to a specific allergen by measuring the quantity of allergy-causing antibodies in the bloodstream, according to the Mayo Clinic.
There are several shop-bought tests available that claim to detect allergies, but should be avoided.
- kinesiology testing – claims to detect food allergies by studying your muscle responses
- vega testing – claims to detect allergies by measuring changes in your electromagnetic field
- hair analysis – claims to detect food allergies by taking a sample of your hair and running a series of tests on it
- alternative blood tests (leukocytotoxic tests) – claim to detect food allergies by checking for the «swelling of white blood cells»
Many alternative testing kits are expensive, the scientific principles they are allegedly based on are unproven, and independent reviews own found them to be unreliable.
They should therefore be avoided.
Itchy eyes, a congested nose, sneezing, wheezing and hives: these are symptoms of an allergic reaction caused when plants release pollen into the air, generally in the spring or drop. Numerous people use hay fever as a colloquial term for these seasonal allergies and the inflammation of the nose and airways.
But hay fever is a misnomer, said Dr. Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat doctor and sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
«It is not an allergy to hay,» Josephson, author of the book «Sinus Relief Now» (Perigee Trade, 2006), told Live Science.
«Rather, it is an allergy to weeds that pollinate.»
Doctors and researchers prefer the phrase allergic rhinitis to describe the condition. More than 50 million people experience some type of allergy each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. In 2017, 8.1% of adults and 7.7% of children reported own allergic rhinitis symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, between 10 and 30% of people are affected by allergic rhinitis, Josephson said.
In 2019, spring arrived early in some parts of the country and later in others, according to the National Phenology Network (NPN).
Spring brings blooming plants and, for some, lots of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. According to NPN data, spring reared its head about two weeks early in areas of California, Nevada and numerous of the Southern and Southeastern states. Much of California, for example, is preparing for a brutal allergy season due to the large quantity of winter rain. On the other hand, spring ranged from about one to two weeks tardy in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic U.S.
[Watch a Massive ‘Pollen Cloud’ Explode from Late-Blooming Tree]
How do scientists know how much pollen is in the air?
They set a trap. The trap — generally a glass plate or rod coated with adhesive — is analyzed every few hours, and the number of particles collected is then averaged to reflect the particles that would pass through the area in any 24-hour period. That measurement is converted to pollen per cubic meter.
Mold counts work much the same way.
A pollen count is an imprecise measurement, scientists confess, and an arduous one — at the analysis stage, pollen grains are counted one by one under a microscope. It is also highly time-consuming to discern between types of pollen, so they are generally bundled into one variable. Given the imprecise nature of the measurement, entire daily pollen counts are often reported simply as low, moderate or high.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides up-to-date pollen counts for U.S.
Referral to an allergy clinic
If your GP suspects a food allergy, you may be referred to an allergy clinic for testing.
The tests needed can vary, depending on the type of allergy:
- if the symptoms developed quickly (an IgE-mediated food allergy) – you’ll probably be given a skin-prick test or a blood test
- if the symptoms developed more slowly (non-IgE-mediated food allergy) – you’ll probably be put on a food elimination diet
An alternative to a skin-prick test is a blood test, which measures the quantity of allergic antibodies in the blood.
During a skin-prick test, drops of standardised extracts of foods are placed on the arm.
The skin is then pierced with a small lancet, which allows the allergen to come into contact with the cells of your immune system.
Occasionally, your doctor may perform the test using a sample of the food thought to cause a reaction.
Itching, redness and swelling generally indicates a positive reaction. This test is generally painless.
A skin-prick test does own a little theoretical chance of causing anaphylaxis, but testing will be carried out where there are facilities to deal with this – usually an allergy clinic, hospital, or larger GP surgery.
Food elimination diet
In a food elimination diet, the food thought to own caused the allergic reaction is withdrawn from your diet for 2 to 6 weeks.
The food is then reintroduced.
If the symptoms go away when the food is withdrawn but return once the food is introduced again, this normally suggests a food allergy or intolerance.
Before starting the diet, you should be given advice from a dietitian on issues such as:
- how you should interpret food labels
- the food and drinks you need to avoid
- if any alternative sources of nutrition are needed
- how endless the diet should final
Don’t attempt a food elimination diet by yourself without discussing it with a qualified health professional.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may at first feel love those of a freezing.
But unlike a freezing that may incubate before causing discomfort, symptoms of allergies generally appear almost as soon as a person encounters an allergen, such as pollen or mold.
Symptoms include itchy eyes, ears, nose or throat, sneezing, irritability, nasal congestion and hoarseness. People may also experience cough, postnasal drip, sinus pressure or headaches, decreased sense of smell, snoring, sleep apnea, fatigue and asthma, Josephson said. [Oral Allergy Syndrome: 6 Ways to Avoid an Itchy, Tingling Mouth]
Many of these symptoms are the immune system’s overreaction as it attempts to protect the vital and sensitive respiratory system from exterior invaders.
The antibodies produced by the body hold the foreign invaders out, but also cause the symptoms characteristic of allergic responses.
People can develop hay fever at any age, but most people are diagnosed with the disorder in childhood or early adulthood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms typically become less severe as people age.
Often, children may first experience food allergies and eczema, or itchy skin, before developing hay fever, Josephson said.
«This then worsens over the years, and patients then develop allergies to indoor allergens love dust and animals, or seasonal rhinitis, love ragweed, grass pollen, molds and tree pollen.»
Hay fever can also lead to other medical conditions. People who are allergic to weeds are more likely to get other allergies and develop asthma as they age, Josephson said. But those who get immunotherapy, such as allergy shots that assist people’s bodies get used to allergens, are less likely to develop asthma, he said.