Allergy Treatment Specialists in Houston, Texas
Allergy & ENT Associates – a trusted consortium of fifteen allergy centers located throughout the Greater Houston Area – provides specialized care for the diagnosis and management of all types of allergies and hypersensitivities affecting lungs, skin, ear, nose, throat and stomach. Driven by a team of widely experienced doctors and support staff, we are the largest specialty allergy, asthma and immunology group practice in Texas. We have proven expertise in diagnosing and treating mild to moderate and severe allergies, triggered by:
What is an Allergy?
An allergy is an abnormal reaction to a substance that would usually be harmless to the body. Substances that produce these reactions are called allergens. Allergic reactions occur when a particular substance is consumed, inhaled, or otherwise introduced to the body, inciting an immediate abnormal inflammatory reaction.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
Patients with environmental allergies tend to have:
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy rash
- Dark circles under eyes and
Anaphylaxis, commonly triggered by allergic foods, insect stings, or certain drugs, can cause:
- Whole-body rash
- Shortness of breath
- Throat swelling
- Vomiting/ diarrhea
Environmental allergies: Seasonal vs. Perennial allergies
Seasonal allergies are usually caused by outdoor pollens during different seasons. Some examples include:
- Trees (Oak, Pecan, Cedar, Ash, etc.)
- Grasses (Bahia, Bermuda, Timothy, etc.)
- Weeds (Ragweed, Marsh Elder, Thistle, etc)
Perennial allergies are triggered year-round by indoor allergens such as
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
Diagnostic Evaluation for Allergies
- Skin Test: (also known as a prick or scratch test) involves lightly pricking the skin on the back or forearm with a tiny drop of the liquid allergen.
- Intradermal Skin Testing: If prick test is negative for an allergen, an intradermal skin testing for that substance can be done. The intradermal test may be optimal if there is a suspected venom or drug allergy.
- Blood Allergy Testing: involves a quick blood draw. The patient’s blood is sent to the laboratory, and the presence of antibodies to certain allergen indicates an existing allergy.
- Oral Challenge: an oral food challenge may be recommended if results from a skin or blood test are uncertain. During an oral food challenge, the patient will consume a small amount of food in increasing amounts over a period of time to observe if an allergic reaction occur.
- Patch Testing: caused by a certain chemical (gold, nickel, etc), a patch test can be performed. Patch test involves the application of a small amount of allergen onto the surface of the skin.
Personalized Allergy Treatment Plans
- Environmental Allergy Treatments: the allergy treatment plan can be formulated with combined strategies of avoidance, medications, and either allergy shots or allergy drops.
- Stinging Insect Treatments: venom allergy shot has been found to be a safe and an effective treatment for patients who have had a systemic (whole-body) allergic reaction.
- Food Allergy Treatments: current treatment includes strict avoidance and administration of allergy medications (antihistamine and Epinephrine) to use as needed during anaphylactic reactions.
Other Allergy Services
Allergy & ENT Associates offers a comprehensive spectrum of services and procedures to facilitate accurate diagnosis. Our services and procedures include:
- Penicillin Testing
- Allergy Shots
- Rush Immunotherapy
- Allergy Drops (SLIT)
We match therapies to the specific profile of a patient, and based on the findings, prescribe allergy shots, medications, drops, rush immunotherapy, and other procedures.
“Been getting allergy shots here for 8 years, and it has always been a wonderful experience.” – Tony F.
How can I tell if I have a cold or allergies?
Allergy reactions would include sneezing, coughing, congestion, itchy nose, itchy eyes, and runny nose. However, a cold should go away within a week to ten days, and cannot be traced to exposure to a substance. General aches, severe sore throat pain, and fever are symptoms that are usually associated with a cold.
Is Asthma an Allergy?
Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing an shortness of breath. Asthma may be related to allergies, but also may be a non-allergic reaction. 80% of children and 50% of adults with Asthma have allergies and should have an allergy evaluation if it is persistent. Non-allergic asthma may be provoked by an upper respiratory infection, smoke, air temperature, medication, or stress. Allergic asthma may be affected by pollen, mold, dust, and other environmental allergens.
How to minimize my allergy symptoms
- Pollen allergies: staying indoors, staying away from conditions that stir up pollen such as fresh-cut lawn. Plan outdoor activities later in the afternoon when grass pollen is lower can help manage allergy symptoms. If you happen to be outside for a long period of time, shower and change into new clothes when returning inside. Make sure to change your air filters in your home and keep your windows shut.
- Cover mattresses and pillows in hypoallergenic covers, avoid using ceiling fans, wash your sheets and blankets weekly in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit), and avoid carpet inside the home.
- If your symptoms are not improved with allergen avoidance and medications, immunotherapy can improve your immunity to allergies in addition to relieving symptoms.
Does mold really affect my allergies?
Mold allergies can flare all year long, especially in damp weather, causing allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny/stuffy nose, watery/itchy eyes, itchy throat, and cough. Mold allergies can make asthma symptoms worse.
What happens if I don’t treat my allergies?
Untreated allergies can lead to a variety of problems such as sinus infections, eczema and asthma. Feeling fatigue are also due to allergies. Anxiety and depression can be triggered from the lack of sleep and ongoing symptoms. It is important to treat allergies promptly.
When do children develop allergies?
Allergic tendencies are often passed genetically from parents to children, although it can take months or years for an allergy to develop after initial exposure. In most cases, seasonal allergies to tree, weed and grass pollen usually don’t begin until a child is about 3 or 4.
How to deal with a child with severe allergies
One in four children in our country suffers from allergies. However, the degree to which the body responds to allergens varies widely from one child to another.
Together, our team can develop a thorough treatment protocol that includes avoidance, testing, immunotherapy, and emergency management (EpiPen).
When should I see a doctor about my allergy?
You should see a doctor if you:
- Chronically suffer from nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, or chronic sinus infections
- Are not helped by over-the-counter (OTC)allergy medications, or who experience adverse side effects from those medicines
- Are having to take OTC chronically (more than 2 months a year) especially nasal steroids (Flonase, Nasocort, Rhinocort, Nasonex)
- Have difficulty with day-to-day functions due to allergy or asthma symptoms
- Experience warning signs of severe asthma, such as struggling to catch their breath, chronic or frequent chest tightness, or wheezing or coughing
are not receiving adequate results from previously-prescribed asthma medication
- Have chronic or recurrent sinus infections
All specialists of Allergy and ENT Associates are certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (ABAI) – the highest level of training and recognition an allergy physician can receive in the US – and are also the Diplomats of the Board of Pediatrics or Internal Medicine. Whether a patient has a mild, moderate or severe allergy, our physicians follow a comprehensive assessment to ensure the patients receive the best possible treatment. Our physicians also discuss prevention tips with patients, to reduce the course of treatment and improving the treatment’s response.