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Allergy Care and Treatment

Why Choose Treatment for Allergies at University of Colorado Hospital?

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Because they practice at an academic hospital, our providers always keep current with the latest research, medicine and treatments for a wide range of allergic and related conditions. Among them:

  • Asthma
  • Rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Urticaria (hives)
  • Angioedema (swelling)
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Sinusitis
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis (inflammation of skin or rash)

What are Allergies?

Seasonal allergies

Allergies are fairly common, affecting more than one out of every five people. With an allergic reaction, the body's immune system reacts to an otherwise harmless substance. It may be a particular food, plant or even dust particle.

 

The most common substances that can cause allergies include:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander
  • Mold
  • Food

 

Allergies can cause:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching
  • Rashes

 

An allergy is different from a "sensitivity." A sensitivity involves a part of the body, such as the digestive system, reacting to a foreign substance.

 

Allergies, by contrast, involve the body's immune system. Needless to say, people often confuse allergies with sensitivities, and end up treating the wrong kind of ailment.

 

Your medical staff at UCH will help you determine if your symptoms are caused by an allergy or a sensitivity, and then offer you the most effective treatment options.

Your UCH Medical Team for Allergies

University of Colorado Hospital is an academic hospital. This means that our patients benefit from a team of specialists who have to keep up with the latest in allergy research, science and treatment.

 

Your initial evaluation may be done by:

 

Allergy/immunology fellow – A doctor who has completed training in internal medicine and is receiving additional training in allergy and clinical immunology.

Internal medicine resident – A doctor who has completed medical school and is now working toward board certification in internal medicine.

 

You will then be cared for by a physician who is already a member of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine faculty.

 

Allergy Specialists Glossary

 

Allergist or immunologist – A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies and can perform special tests to determine what allergies you may have.

 

Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat specialist) – A licensed doctor who specializes in treating conditions related to the ear, nose, throat, head and neck.

Patient Education About Allergies

Living with Allergies

Allergies can't be prevented, but they can usually be treated and controlled. Minor lifestyle adjustments can help lessen the effects of allergies. Talk to your doctor about allergy medicines that might improve your allergy symptoms. Discuss any side effects that may result from taking allergy medication.

  • Limiting the number of allergens you are around may help reduce your symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to pet dander, try to avoid having animals in your home that cause allergic symptoms.
  • If you are allergic to certain types of food, read food labels carefully, and avoid eating foods that cause reactions.
  • If you're allergic to pollen, avoid keeping windows open when pollen counts are high, usually in the spring.

 

Getting a Second Opinion about Allergies

People who suffer from severe allergies may want to seek additional medical advice from an allergist or ear, nose and throat specialist. The specialists at University of Colorado Hospital are happy to provide you with a second opinion.

 

Allergy Support Groups

Allergy and Asthma Mothers of Asthmatics

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network

 

Additional Allergy Resources

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease

Allergy Tests & Treatments

Skin Testing for Allergies

Skin testing is often performed to diagnose allergies. A doctor will determine if skin testing is necessary after reviewing your medical history and symptoms. Tests are performed by pricking or scratching tiny drops of allergen into your skin.

 

Allergy & Immunology Treatments

 

Antihistamines. Available in the form of a:

  • Pill
  • Nasal spray
  • Eye drop

 

Antihistamines block the action of histamine, a chemical released during an allergic reaction that causes inflammation.

 

Decongestants

Pills, liquids and nasal sprays that relieve nasal and eye congestion caused by allergies.

 

Corticosteroids

Prescription drugs available as a pill, a nasal spray or eye drop that are used to treat severe allergies. Some corticosteroids have side effects and may not be prescribed for long periods of time.

 

Allergy shots

Shots may be prescribed to individuals who have allergies. Shots contain small amounts of allergens that are given repeatedly so your body gets used to them and over time stops overreacting to them. Shots may be administered for a couple of months or for longer periods of time, depending on the individual.

Allergy Research

Ongoing allergy research at UCH includes trials for the treatment of hereditary angioedema and research that examines the basis of the peanut allergy, which can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction.