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Allergy Specialist

St. Francis Sleep, Allergy & Lung Institute

Pulmonary, Sleep, Allergy & Clinical Research Center located in Clearwater, Florida

About 30% of adults and 40% of children experience flare-ups of itching, swelling, sneezing, rashes, and other symptoms that comprise allergic reactions. At St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute in Clearwater, Florida, Frank Averill, MD, can identify the cause of your reactions and strategies to prevent or treat them. Call St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute or book an appointment online to find out more about what causes allergies and why you have them.

Allergy Q & A

What is an allergy?

Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a substance in your environment. You can be allergic to foods, airborne particles, metals, and more. The substance that causes your allergic reaction is called an allergen.

Some common allergens are:

  • Animal fur or dander
  • Pollen
  • Medications (e.g. penicillin)
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Mold
  • Latex

When you come into contact with your allergen by skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation, your body’s immune system attacks it. You can avoid an allergic reaction by avoiding your allergen, but many common allergens are difficult to simply avoid.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

Allergic reactions come in many forms depending on the allergen. For example, a food allergy causes different symptoms than a latex allergy. They also vary from person to person.

Common symptoms of allergic reactions are:

  • Stuffy sinuses
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itching
  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling 
  • Short breath
  • Chest tightness

Severe allergies can cause a reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis sets in within minutes or hours after you come in contact with your allergen and can be deadly without intervention. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include hives, swelling of the tongue and throat, vomiting, dizziness, and fainting.

What is allergy testing?

St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute offers allergy testing to discern the substance that causes your reactions. Before your allergy test, your provider gathers as much information as possible about your medical history, the symptoms of your reactions, and the environment you were in during your reaction. Then, they can begin testing.

There are three main types of allergy testing: blood tests, patch tests, and skin prick tests. Each of them involves small amounts of possible allergens being placed on your skin or in your blood to see if it causes a reaction. The substance that causes a reaction is your allergen.

How are allergies treated?

Avoiding your allergens to avoid a reaction may be impossible, especially if it’s an airborne substance like pollen. Your physician may give you decongestants or nasal sprays to reduce your congestion or antihistamines to block the response.

For severe allergies, St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute offers immunotherapy. Over a period of time, your provider exposes you to increasing amounts of your allergens to build your tolerance to them. 

Allergies are a nuisance, but they don’t have to stop you from living a relatively carefree life. To find out what your allergens are and get help managing your allergies, call St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute or book an appointment online today.