Environmental AllergiesPollen / Animals / Dust / Mold Skin Testing
Environmental allergens are substances you come into contact with in your everyday life — at home, at work, and outdoors. These substances trigger an immune response that can vary from mildly irritating to significantly disruptive.
While some environmental allergens — like mold and dust mites — are things we typically try to avoid, other allergens — like pollen and animal dander — can be closely connected to things we love and enjoy, whether it’s walking outdoors or snuggling with a beloved pet.
For this reason, diagnosing and treating environmental allergies is one of our favorite jobs at Hudson allergy — it can have a profound impact on a patient’s day-to-day life.
What are the environmental allergens that can trigger everyday allergies?
- Pet dander and saliva
For many outdoor allergens like pollen, peak allergy seasons often occur in both the spring and fall. However, pollen can potentially be in the air for multiple seasons. Trees typically pollinate in the spring and up to early summer. Grasses pollinate in late spring and throughout the summer. Finally, ragweed and other weeds are common culprits of late-summer and fall allergies.
What are the symptoms of environmental allergies?
The symptoms of an environmental allergies may vary, but they commonly include:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Post nasal drip and throat clearing
Together, these symptoms are often referred to as “hay fever,” though they don’t have anything to do with either hay or fevers! Many of these symptoms can also be worsened by common environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke or fragrances.
How will an allergist test for environmental allergies?
Environmental allergies can be diagnosed with a skin test, where a tiny prick is used to apply a small amount of the suspected allergen within the upper layers of skin, along with a control substance. Your allergist will be able to read the results of your skin test after about 15 minutes.
Skin tests are typically painless, though they might be a bit itchy if you are sensitized to the allergens being tested.
At Hudson Allergy, we recommend testing for target or specific allergens based on your clinical story, so it’s important to talk to your allergist about your symptoms and when and how they appear. Be sure to share all of the medications you may be taking — your doctor will recommend you stop use of any antihistamines a few days before your scheduled test.
How can I treat my environmental allergies?
At this time, there are three main ways to treat environmental allergies:
- Allergen Immunotherapy
It’s often not possible to completely avoid allergens, but there are steps that can be taken to minimize exposure. Speaking with an allergist can be helpful to discuss environmental avoidance measures.
With respect to medications, there are a variety of medications available today, both over the counter and by prescription, that can help treat the symptoms of environmental allergies. Although helpful, some of these medications cannot be used long term, nor do they address the root cause of the allergy.
Allergen immunotherapy treatment — administered through shots or sublingual drops — reduces the immune response to allergens and offers long-term relief from symptoms.
Call Hudson Allergy today to learn more about environmental allergy testing and treatment options that could help you.