Allergies may mimic many of the same symptoms that we may find in chronic sinus disease. It is widespread – affecting over 40 million Americans yearly. In fact, the Chicago metropolitan area ranks amongst the highest-affected American cities for allergy problems. 

Allergies are often termed allergic rhinitis, or in some cases referred to as hay fever. An allergic individual has a tendency to react symptomatically when exposed to an otherwise harmless substance (or allergen) in the environment. Many allergic individuals have no problems in childhood yet develop allergic symptoms in teenage or adult years. 

Allergens may include: 

  • Pollens (from trees, grasses and weeds) 
  • Molds 
  • Dust mites 
  • Animal hair and dander 
  • Food 

Most commonly, it is the airborne allergens such as pollens, molds and dust mites that, once inhaled through the nose, cause sinus problems in allergic individuals. 

Common Allergy Symptoms (often include at least 2 of the following): 

  • Nasal and sinus congestion 
  • Facial pain 
  • Runny nose 
  • Itchy, watery eyes 
  • Post nasal drip 
  • Sneezing 
  • Headaches 
  • Plugging of ears 
  • Unsteadiness 
  • Cough, wheezing or shortness of breath 
  • Hives 

Allergies not only mimic common sinus problems but also negatively affect an individual’s general quality of life. Our physicians have many decades of experience diagnosing and effectively treating allergic problems, both in adults and children. 

Allergy Testing 

The most common form is skin testing. This painless test is performed on the skin of the back or the forearm, when a small amount of the allergen is placed on a prick of the skin. If you’re allergic, within minutes a raised bump of the skin (hive) will form at the test location. 

On occasion, especially in the investigation of food allergies, a blood test commonly called RAST (radioallergosorbent test) may be performed. This measures the amount of IgE (immunoglobulin E), the allergy-causing antibody in your system. 

Allergy Treatment 

The best treatment for allergies is avoidance, which unfortunately is sometimes difficult to achieve. Simple steps such as keeping doors and windows closed and using air conditioning during the spring or summer is helpful for those suffering from pollen allergies (hay fever). Dust-mite allergy symptoms are improved by encasing pillows and mattresses in mite-proof cases. Removal of carpeting and replacing with a solid, easy-to-clean surface is also invaluable in controlling dust mites. These and other common-sense steps are discussed by our physicians in the allergy evaluation. 

Medications including antihistamines, anti-allergic nasal sprays, eye drops and others are valuable in controlling allergy symptoms. However, in order to build up an allergic individual’s resistance to their allergies, subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) is invaluable. This treatment involves introducing small amounts of allergen into the body, which in turn stimulates “blocking antibodies” which protect the allergic individual from reacting when exposed to their offending allergens. Immunotherapy has been practiced for over a century and is considered a safe and effective long-term treatment for a variety of allergies. 

Please call any of our offices to schedule your allergy evaluation. Allergy testing, if indicated, can often be performed at the time of the initial visit.