Allergy and Asthma Treatments
Allergy problems arise when your immune system overreacts to an allergen—something that usually is harmless, such as plant pollen, dust mites, molds, insect stings or certain foods. If you have an allergy, your immune system acts as if the allergens were dangerous, releasing a chemical called histamine that causes allergy symptoms.
If the allergen is something you breathe in from the air, your reaction will most likely affect your eyes, nose and lungs. If it's something you eat, it may affect your mouth, stomach and intestines. Food allergies also can cause skin rashes or even asthma symptoms.
Dr. Rao will obtain a detailed medical history, examine you and evaluate your symptoms. Tests will be performed to find out the type of your allergic disease. Skin tests or allergy blood tests may be needed to find out the precise causes of your allergic symptoms. Based on the entire clinical evaluation, a diagnosis is made.
If the allergy tests are negative, do not despair; Dr. Rao can still help find the cause of your symptoms. Allergists are also experts in the treatment of non-allergic asthma, rhinitis, food and drug reactions, and other types of problems of your immune system, like frequent infections.
This is the step where you get better! Allergy treatments include three components: Prevention, Medication and Immunotherapy.
Prevention: Once identified, the cause of the symptoms may be avoided or removed from your life. For example, a particular food can be avoided, or a pet can be removed from the home or kept away from sleeping areas. Some causes of allergic symptoms, such as pollen, molds and dust mites are difficult to avoid. Exposure can be reduced, however, by environmental control measures prescribed by your allergist.
Medication: Although prevention comes first, more may be needed. Medications are usually used to decrease allergy symptoms and improve the patient's quality of life. Dr. Rao is an expert in the latest safe and effective medications for treating allergic illness.
Immunotherapy ("allergy shots"): If a specific allergy is identified and it cannot be avoided or medications are not effective, the symptoms may be decreased or eliminated with allergy shots.
The treatment increases the patient's resistance to the allergens.
Allergy shots stimulate the immune system to fight allergies safely, effectively and naturally. Beginning with small doses and increasing them gradually on a weekly or biweekly basis, the therapy continues until a maintenance level is achieved. Then, a maintenance dose is injected every few weeks.
Immunity does not occur immediately, but some patients do begin to feel better quickly. Most patients are continued on monthly injections for 3 to 5 years once they reach the maintenance dose. In some patients, immunity is maintained and treatment can be stopped after several years. For others, treatment may be needed for longer periods of time. Generally, the benefits of allergy shots can last for many years, or even a lifetime.
With the immune system restored to good health, few or no medications may be needed. Work or school days are no longer missed. The burden of allergies is lifted, and allergies become something you just don't think about any more.
Allergy shots are prescribed by Dr. Rao and are usually given under medical supervision at our office or another location where medical staff and medications are available to handle any serious reaction. Although rare, serious reactions can occur from allergy shots because the treatment involves the substances to which the patient is known to be allergic. As allergists, we feel that the benefits far outweigh the extremely small risk of a serious reaction. It is safe for both children and adults, and even pregnant patients may continue treatment started prior to pregnancy.
Many people that have asthma don’t know it, especially if their symptoms aren’t severe, but any asthmatic symptom is serious and can become deadly. The most common asthma symptoms are:
- Coughing, Especially at Night, with Exercise or When Laughing
- Trouble Breathing
- A Tight Feeling in the Chest
- Wheezing – a Squeaky or Whistling Sound
Sometimes a cough that won't go away is the only symptom of asthma. Asthma symptoms often happen at night and in the morning, but they can happen any time. They get worse when you are around your asthma triggers.
Is asthma life-threatening?
In severe and poorly controlled cases, asthma can be life-threatening, and the death rate and prevalence of asthma has increased significantly since the late 1970s. If there is a single factor leading to severe or fatal asthma attacks, it appears to be a delay in administering appropriate drug therapy.
Working in partnership with an allergist, having an action plan, recognizing the triggers and early warning signals of an impending attack and using a peak flow meter to detect the degree of bronchial obstruction can all contribute to a decrease in the frequency and severity of attacks.
Should persons with asthma avoid sports and exercise?
By taking preventive measures, people with asthma should be able to compete in sports. However, not all sports are tolerated equally well. In general, exercise and most sports that involve prolonged periods of running are more likely to provoke asthma attacks than nonaerobic ones.
Swimming is one of the best-tolerated sports. In most instances, pre-exercise medications and warm-up exercises enable participation. Many Olympic athletes, including several gold medal winners, have had asthma.
How Can Dr. Rao Help Your Asthma?
Studies show that people with asthma who see their allergist reduce their:
- Emergency Room Visits
- Hospital Stays and Visits to the Doctor
- Missed Days from Work or School
- Health Care Costs
They also are happier about their care and have a better quality of life.
Allergy & Asthma Treatment Center
3016 Communications Pkwy
Plano, TX 75093