An allergy is the body’s immune reaction when exposed to certain substances. The body has a natural defense system, producing antibodies to ward off illnesses. An allergy is essentially the body producing antibodies for a non-harmful substance. When the substance is present, the body shifts into overdrive, producing antibodies, causing a range of symptoms, which include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Itching on the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen lips, tongue, face, throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Hives
  • Coughing, wheezing, tight chest
  • Rash
  • Facial swelling
  • Itchy skin
  • Blocked airway

Types of allergies

An allergic reaction can occur due to exposure to various substances in the environment, including:

  • Foods 
  • Insect bites
  • Pollen
  • Gluten
  • Dust mites
  • Animal dander
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Peanuts
  • Medications
  • Household cleaning products
  • Latex
  • Food additives

When a person is allergic to a substance, the body releases antibodies that in turn, release other chemicals. The antibodies then travel to specific cells in the body that release “histamines.” The histamines are stored in mast cells, and increase the blood flow to the area affected, causing inflammation. 

Allergy risks

An allergic reaction can be very severe, leading to anaphylaxis, a condition in which the body is hypersensitive. The symptoms of this extreme allergic reaction pose a risk to health and life. The symptoms include feeling lightheaded, faint, trouble breathing, wheezing, speeded heartbeat, nausea, red or swollen skin, confusion, anxiety, or loss of consciousness. 

If you or your child have an allergy that could lead to anaphylaxis, it is imperative that you have a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen). At The Barranco Clinic in South Florida, we perform allergy testing to help you live a happier, healthier life, and our ENTs (ear, nose, and throat doctors) are among the most dedicated and talented in the area. 

Testing for allergies – what to expect

At an ENT clinic, skin testing for allergies can be performed. An “intradermal test” exposes your skin to a tiny dose of an allergen, injected under your skin. A puncture or scratch test can check for about 50 different allergens, with the allergen introduced to your system with a tiny prick on the forearm. If the skin reacts, it indicates you are allergic to that substance. 

The test takes only a few minutes to complete. The diluted substance is introduced to your skin. After about 15 minutes, if you are allergic to the substance, a small bump like an insect bite will appear. A “patch test” could be needed. These tests do not involve injections, but the allergens are on patches that are placed on the body, left for 48 hours to check for a reaction.

Concerned about allergies? See an ENT.

If you have hay fever, or suffer allergic reactions and are unsure why, it is important to see an ENT. Allergic reactions often get worse in subsequent exposures and can become a dangerous health risk if left untreated. 

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