Many common ear, nose, and throat symptoms are caused by allergies. These include recurrent nasal congestion, ear pressure, sinusitis, postnasal drainage, cough, and hoarseness.
Northwest ENT and Allergy Center provides complete allergy testing and treatment. Each of the physicians in the practice has specialized training in the medical management of seasonal and year round allergies.
Learn more about the diagnosis and variety of treatments of allergies below.
Allergic rhinitis, sometimes called “hay fever,” is an allergic reaction to an allergen that results in an inflammation of the nasal membranes. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis typically include sneezing, nasal congestion, nasal itching, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, and even cough. The sinuses, eyes, ears, throat, and skin can be affected by allergies.
Allergic rhinitis is often an underlying cause of recurrent ear infections, recurrent sinusitis, asthma, and eye and sleep problems. Because of these associations, it is important to disclose any previous medical history to an ENT physician.
Why does the body develop allergies?
Allergy symptoms appear when the immune system reacts to a substance that has entered the body as though it were an unwelcome invader. The immune system will produce special antibodies capable of recognizing the same allergic substance if it enters the body at a later time. When an allergen re-enters the body, the immune system rapidly recognizes it, causing a series of rapid reactions. These reactions often involve tissue destruction, blood vessel dilation, and production of many inflammatory substances, including histamine. Histamine produces common allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal and sinus congestion, headaches, sneezing, scratchy throat, hives, shortness of breath, etc. Other less common symptoms are balance disturbances, skin irritations such as eczema, and even respiratory problems like asthma.
What are common allergens?
Many common substances can be allergens. Pollens, food, mold, dust, feathers, animal dander, chemicals, drugs such as penicillin, and environmental pollutants commonly cause many to suffer allergic reactions.
Early springtime hay fever is most often caused by pollens of trees such as elm, cedar, pine, poplar, ash, oak, and hickory. Late spring and early summer pollens come from grasses like Timothy, Bermuda, Johnson, and some bluegrasses. One of the most significant causes of seasonal allergic rhinitis in the United States is ragweed. It begins pollinating in late August in most of the U.S. and continues until the first frost. Other weeds have similar blooming patterns and also cause patients to have allergy symptoms in the autumn. Flowering plants rarely cause allergy symptoms.
Certain allergens are present all year long. These include house dust, pet dander (mostly cats and dogs), and some foods and chemicals. Certain molds also fall into this category. Symptoms caused by these allergens often worsen in the winter due to poor ventilation.
Mold spores also cause allergy problems. Molds are present all year long and grow both outdoors and indoors. Dead leaves and farm areas are common sources for outdoor molds. Indoor plants, old books, bathrooms, and damp areas are common sources of indoor mold growth.
Allergic Rhinitis Treatment
There is a wide range of treatment options for allergies. These can vary from simple avoidance for mild or rare problems to more complicated regimens that include immunotherapy plus nasal sprays and oral medications for more severe cases. After a complete evaluation, the physicians at Northwest ENT will recommend a treatment plan that is specific to each patient.
Contact Northwest ENT and Allergy Center at (770) 427-0368 for more information about the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Make an appointment at one of our locations in metro Atlanta.