All allergies are not the same but they all share one thing in common: making you miserable! At Oregon Coast Allergies & Sinus, we focus primarily on nasal allergies for several reasons.
- Nasal allergies are very common, particularly in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
- Nasal allergies are a very common cause of sinus infections (sinusitis) and the related symptoms that include facial pain, sinus headaches and nasal congestion (stuffiness). This practice is focused on people who suffer from frequent allergies and frequent sinusitis, so it makes sense for us to focus on the connection between the two.
Nasal Allergies (Allergic Rhinitis)
Rhinitis is a medical term for inflammation of the inner lining of the nose. Allergic rhinitis is caused by an allergic reaction to specific allergens, including pollen, dust, mold or pet dander. During an allergic response, your body’s immune system overreacts to the presence of one of these allergens in the air.
Sometimes you may see allergic rhinitis referred to as “nasal allergies” or “nose allergies” or even “hay fever” (which is generally a seasonal reference to this type of allergy).
Seasonal vs Year-Round Nasal Allergies
Allergic rhinitis includes seasonal and year-round allergic reactions, but more people are prone to experience nasal allergies during “allergy season”. Most people with seasonal allergies are allergic to outdoor triggers, such as pollen. In Oregon, allergy season is typically considered to be at its peak between February and April but varies a bit from one year to another. Suffice it to say that springtime is particularly tough on people susceptible to seasonal nasal allergies.
Most Common Causes for Nasal Allergies
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
Some people endure year-round allergies. If you experience allergies throughout the year, you may very well be allergic to indoor allergy triggers, including pet dander, dust mites or mold. (There is also a form of nonallergic rhinitis that does not involve your immune system and is often triggered by environmental causes such as tobacco smoke, air pollution or even strong odors.)
Allergy Testing and Treatment
Our practice offers allergy testing with same-day results. You will first meet with Dr. Webster for your initial exam and consultation and when allergy testing is warranted, our experienced, knowledgeable and well-trained allergy staff will provide the testing in a manner and process designed to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
Most often, we will administer an allergy skin prick test, also known as a puncture or scratch test, which may sound painful, but it’s not. The scratch test allows us to check for and immediately and accurately identify allergies from many different causes. We test for 38 different allergens, including a combination of trees, grasses, weeds, molds, dust mites, pet dander and other environmental causes.
After the allergy testing is complete, you will meet again with Dr.Webster to discuss results and recommendations for treatment.
Depending on a number of factors, including test results, your health history and personal considerations, Dr. Webster will recommend treatment from one of three major categories of options.
Prevention/Avoidance of Allergy Triggers
Depending on the cause of your allergies, you may or may not be able to avoid the triggers for your specific allergies. However, you may be able to remove certain sources of allergies from your diet, home or other locations where you spend time exposed to these triggers. However, many nasal allergies are caused by sources you can’t practically eliminate from your life.
Some people respond well to allergy medication while others do not. These medications may include antihistamines, decongestants or corticosteroids in the form of nose sprays, creams, ointments or oral medication. However, all allergy medications have limits on how much, how effectively and for how long they can reduce symptoms. Unlike immunotherapy treatments, medications can reduce your symptoms but don’t treat the condition. Also, depending on your health insurance plan, some medications may be fairly expensive, even for the co-pay amount.
Immunotherapy has been shown to provide permanent relief from allergies for many patients over a period of months. We offer patients two options for immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy Injections (Allergy shots)
Allergy shots have a long track record and have been proven to be effective for many patients over a period of time. The regimen does require regular appointments for injections at our office (usually weekly).
One of the key benefits of allergy injections is that we can include multiple allergens in one shot. Also, allergy injections are covered by almost all health insurance plans. However, some people just don’t want to get injections or find it inconvenient to make multiple trips to our office for treatment. Serious adverse reactions to allergy shots are quite rare but can occur.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (Allergy drops)
Allergy drops (also known as sublingual immunotherapy or “SLIT”) have increased in popularity for some obvious reasons. The drops substitute for injections and can be self-administered at home. Drops are also extremely safe to self-administer. Drops are also preferred by many parents for their allergic children (and for themselves).
Additionally, sublingual drops show a considerably higher compliance rate compared to injections (again, for obvious reasons).
The downside of allergy drops is that this form of treatment is often not covered by health insurance plans. For an increasing number of allergy patients, the tradeoff is worth it. (If you have a health savings account from your employer, you can use it for allergy drops.)