Ear Diseases and Allergies
Many ear diseases are affected by allergies. These include middle ear effusion, eustachian tube obstruction, external ear infections, and Meniere’s disease. Since there is a very close relationship between the ears and the structure of the nose and throat, general ear, nose and throat allergies are treated in our Allergy Department.
Most patients who have an allergic problem can be treated with elimination of the offending foods, and the avoidance of an allergic environment. In other patients, simple medical treatment with antihistamines and decongestants offer good relief. Some patients, however, continue to have severe symptoms that necessitate allergic testing and desensitization. Relief of allergic ear, nose and throat symptoms is the main goal of desensitization. Other benefits are often the result of treatment, and may include changes in behavior, loss of fatigue, and a decrease in irritability.
Diagnosis of allergy is made from a patient’s history, skin tests, physical examination and blood tests. In our office, the skin endpoint titration technique of skin testing is used. It is a very specific and safe procedure. This method of testing allows for year-round protection from all the major allergies. The testing takes between one and two hours and a report is given to the patient at the end of the testing period. During the test, different strengths of the most common inhalant offenders (dusts, molds and pollens) are injected into the top layer of skin on the upper arm. At the end of a ten-minute waiting period, the test sites are measured. On the basis of the initial reading, the tests are repeated using a weaker or stronger concentration of each allergen until an end point is reached. The therapy you will be given to treat your allergies will be measured out according to the test results, which allow for very safe and reliable treatment of inhalant allergies.
Other Tests for Allergies
Very useful and valuable blood tests are also available to help with the diagnosis and treatment of the allergic patient. IGE determinations are often positive in allergy patients. This blood test helps pinpoint the person who will benefit from skin testing and desensitization. RAST tests are for particular antigens and are quite accurate. There may be a time in the future when all allergy testing will be done by laboratory analysis.
If testing proves that the patient is allergic, then desensitization treatment is started. Desensitization involves a series of antigen injections to build up the patient’s immunity to allergens. Antigen injections are given at seven day intervals until a maintenance dose is reached. If the symptoms improve, the time interval between injections is lengthened. Patients are usually maintained on a weekly injection until the allergic symptoms are under good control. Many patients (especially children with ear problems) require treatment for two to three years. Other patients must continue injections for many years; even a lifetime. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long treatment will be necessary.
Medications For Allergy
Besides the desensitization program, it may be necessary for you to take some additional medication. Ask the clinic physician about this. You may need to have certain sprays, short-term Cortisone therapy, antihistamines or decongestants. For asthmatic patients, we recommend that you see your primary physician for medication. Allergy is a life-long disease. Unfortunately, children do not often outgrow allergies. They usually get worse rather than better. To prevent progression of the disease, it is important that allergies be identified early and treated properly. The allergic person needs to know what his allergies are, to avoid those substances that trigger a reaction, and to treat those that are unavoidable.