Allergy Treatment in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL
After proper diagnosis of your allergies, you need a physician who understands which treatment are most effective for you. At Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists, our physicians are board-certified in Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, so those living in Spring Hill, Tampa and surrounding towns in Florida receive the best allergy treatment to alleviate their symptoms.
Although your allergies cannot be cured, our physicians have an in depth understanding about which medications will best control your symptoms. After your allergies have been correctly diagnosed using our tests, we work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. Your physician may recommend steroid nasal sprays, decongestants, antihistamines, allergy shots (immunotherapy), avoidance of triggers and other medical treatments. Understanding the benefits of each type of treatment helps you make an informed decision about your care.
Managing allergies typically involves a combination of drugs, such as allergy shots and corticosteroids, but in many cases, it’s best to try an antihistamine first.
How Antihistamines Treat Allergies
When dust, pollen, dander or other allergy triggers enter your system, your body responds by producing a class of neurotransmitters called histamines. These are responsible for your itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, difficulty breathing, and congestion. When histamines come into direct contact with skin, allergens can also cause a rash known as hives.
Antihistamines block the release of histamines, thereby preventing allergy symptoms. The medications are effective for controlling the symptoms of a variety of allergies, such as indoor, food and seasonal allergies. Unfortunately, antihistamines do not address every allergy symptom. So your doctor may recommend a decongestant, for example, to control congestion caused by allergies, or a single medication that contains both a decongestant and antihistamine.
Examples of antihistamines include:
- Non-Prescription: Benadryl, Allegra, Diphenhydramine, Dimetane, Claritin, Zyrtec and Tavist as tablets and Ocu-Hist as eye drops.
- Prescription: Xyzal and Clarinex as pills, Astelin as a nasal antihistamine spray and Elestat, Optivar and Patanol for eye drops.
As the name suggests, decongestants reduce congestion and are usually recommended in conjunction with an antihistamine to treat allergies. Decongestant medications are available as eye drops, nasal sprays, tablets or liquids.
Because long-term use of decongestants may worsen congestion, eye drops and nasal sprays containing a decongestant should not be used for more than a few days. Liquids and tablets are a safer option for longer-term use.
Some common prescription and over-the-counter decongestants include:
- Afrin and neo-synephrine as sprays, certain Visine eye drops and Sudafed liquid, tablets and gel caps
- Antihistamines with a combined decongestant like Zyrtec-D and Allegra-D
How Do Decongestants Work?
Allergic reactions cause inflammation in your nasal membranes, as well as excess production of mucus. Additionally, the tiny blood vessels inside the eyeballs may also become inflamed and turn red. Decongestants help by causing the membranes and blood vessels to shrink, putting a stop to the red eyes and runny yet stuffy nose.
Steroid Nasal Sprays
Some of the common brands of steroid-containing nasal sprays available by prescription include Qnasal, Nasonex, Flonase, Veramyst, Beconase, Nasarel, Dymista, Rhinocort, Nasacort, Vancenase and Zetonna. Two nasal sprays that are available without a prescription — Flonase Allergy Relief and Nasacort Allergy 24HR.
- How Steroid Sprays Help: Steroid sprays reduce inflammation of nasal tissues, relieving nasal allergy symptoms.
- People Who Should Not Use Steroid Sprays: If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in steroid nasal sprays, you should avoid using these types of sprays. Your physician may recommend an alternative spray or other type of treatment.
- How to Use Steroid Sprays: Steroid sprays should only be used as directed by your doctor, and follow the instructions on the label carefully. Blow your nose to clear mucus from the nasal passages. Pinch one side of your nose closed and place the applicator into the other side. Squeeze the bottle to spray the product into your nose while breathing in through the open nostril where you are applying the spray. Repeat in the opposite nostril.
Allergy shots give your body a chance to become accustomed to allergens, the substances that cause allergic reactions. While the shots do not cure your allergies, your symptoms do improve over time. You may also experience a decrease in the frequency of your allergy attacks. Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, might not be effective for people who find allergy medications unhelpful or experience symptoms for over three months out of the year.
How Often Do You Get Allergy Shots?
For the first several months, you’ll need to go back to your doctor one to two times weekly. You’ll receive the injection in your upper arm. The active component of the injection is a trace amount of your particular allergen trigger.
The dosage of this trigger is increased over time followed by maintenance doses. Next, you’ll receive another shot every two to four weeks for the next four or five months. After this, you’ll receive shots at a decreasing frequency, leveling out to one each month for three to five years. In this time, you should notice your allergy symptoms improving, and they might even disappear. If you haven’t experienced improvement after one year, you should discuss other options with your doctor.
How Should I Prepare for Allergy Shots?
We recommend that you avoid strenuous activities for at least two hours prior to and following your appointment. Physical activity boosts blood flow throughout the body, which could cause the allergens to circulate too quickly. This is highly unlikely to be an issue, but safety should always come first.
Be sure to notify your doctor if you’re using other medications and herbal or nutritional supplements. Some of these may carry a potential for harmful interactions or side effects in combination with allergy shots. If you must take a medication for health reasons, you may have to discontinue allergy shots.
If you’re pregnant, nursing or may become pregnant, talk to your doctor before starting or continuing immunotherapy.
What Should I Expect After Allergy Shots?
After your shot, you’ll typically be kept at the doctor’s office for about half an hour to ensure that no side effects develop, such as difficulty breathing, itchy eyes, runny nose or tightness in your throat. If you experience any of these symptoms after you leave our office, return to our practice immediately or go to your local emergency room. If you are unable to drive, call 911 right away.
Normal symptoms after allergy shots include swelling, redness and discomfort at the injection site. The symptoms usually resolve within four to eight hours.
Do Allergy Shots Work for All Allergies?
The effectiveness of treatment with allergy shots depends on your specific allergy trigger and the severity of your symptoms. Allergy shots are normally effective for pollen, mold, dander, bee venom and dust mites. Little evidence exists to indicate that allergy shots are effective for treating allergies to latex, drugs or foods.
Who Should Not Get Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots may pose a health risk to people suffering from lung or heart diseases and patients who use certain drugs. Provide your allergist with your complete medical history and a list of any medications, supplements or herbs you’re taking. The information helps determine whether allergy shots are a good treatment option for you.
What to Expect During Your Consultation for Allergy Treatment
Our doctors review your full health history to try to pinpoint the exact cause of your allergies. Questions include where you experience outbreaks most, when they occur and which symptoms you’re having. Your answers will then be used to determine the best tests to diagnose your allergy. Our doctors will also look at the medications and supplements you’re taking to see if your symptoms could be caused by any of these.
While your allergies cannot be cured, the physicians of Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists provide safe and effective treatments to reduce allergic attacks and symptoms. If you live in Tampa, Spring Hill, and other nearby communities in Florida, contact our office to schedule your personal consultation.