Allergy symptoms appear when the body's immune system begins to respond to a substance as though it were a dangerous invader (called an antigen or allergen). It does this by sending specific defenders called antibodies to the entry site. The battle between allergen and antibody results in a release of chemical mediators, such as histamine, into the bloodstream. Those chemical mediators cause changes in the body, which produce the symptoms that we feel. Ear, nose and throat symptoms that may be caused by allergy are itching eyes, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, nasal congestion and drainage, and sometimes headache. Some people experience hearing changes, scratchy sore throats, hoarseness, and cough. Other less common symptoms include balance disturbances, swelling in face or throat tissues, skin irritations, and even respiratory problems and asthma.
Some allergy sufferers experience symptoms all year. Others find certain seasons bring on attacks. Allergy symptom control is most successful when multiple management approaches are used simultaneously. Minimizing exposure to allergens, managing symptoms with medications, and desensitization are all methods that can be useful in controlling allergic symptoms.
A number of medications are useful in the treatment of allergy including antihistamines, steroid sprays (eg. Nasonex, Rhinocort, Avamys) and saline sprays. The medical management of allergy also includes counselling in proper environmental control. Based on a detailed history and thorough examination, your doctor may advise testing to determine the specific substances to which you are allergic.
The treatments employed by your ENT doctor will depend on the materials to which you are allergic and the degree of your sensitivity to them.
Turbinate hypertrophy causing continuous nasal obstruction, nasal polyps and allergically triggered sinusitis may require surgical correction. If surgery is a consideration in your treatment, your general practitioner and ENT Surgeon will discuss the risks, benefits and expected outcomes with you.