Phoenix Allergies are on the Rise Right Now
With summer heat moving on and our Arizona “cool” fall is approaching, another allergy season is soon be upon us!
Unfortunately, spring is not the only time when asthma and allergies are on the rise. Our late summer rain in July and August means more grasses and weeds and, consequently, an increased pollen count this fall and winter. Moreover, temperature inversions contribute to air pollution, another factor that affects allergies like the common hay fever. At the same time, there’s an increase in asthma symptoms that coincides with our children going back to school.
Allergies and asthma have undoubtedly become more prevalent during the last few years. Major cities are turning into allergy hot spots, and Phoenix is no exception. In fact, in extensive study of allergies across the country in 2011, Phoenix ranked the second worst city for allergen sensitizations, right after Dallas. The allergens examined included food, the common ragweed, house dust mites, mold, and pets.
Why an Allergy and Asthma Check Up is so Important Now
When it comes to allergies and asthma, being proactive is crucial. It’s important to remember that allergies are not static-they evolve over time and are greatly influenced by lifestyle changes and age. Nevertheless, with the right preparation, you will be able to treat your symptoms effectively or prevent them altogether in some cases.
Visiting your allergist right now will give you a chance to:
1) evaluate the effectiveness of your treatment,
2) adjust your medication if necessary, and
3) update your medical history.
Children can also benefit from a check up right as school is starting
Finally, this is a great time for first visits if you suspect you have an allergy that will trouble you as soon as allergy season hits!
How to Prepare for Your Visit to the Allergist’s Office
Before your appointment, talk to your doctor about any medication you might be taking. ALERT: Antihistamines interfere with allergy testing, so the general recommendation is to avoid them for seven days prior to testing. However, this may vary for specific medicines, so remember to follow your doctor’s specific instructions.
Psychiatric medications are another category that might affect skin tests. However, you should never stop taking your prescription without your psychiatrist’s permission. Finally, if you take beta-blockers, which might make testing riskier, your allergist will consult your cardiologist to have you stop them for a few days right before your visit.
There are no special preparations for the actual visit, however, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing to make skin testing on your arm or back easier. Remember to provide your doctor with as much information as possible about changes to your symptoms, the effectiveness of your medication, or anything else relevant. Also, think about any questions you might have and prepare them beforehand. Don’t hesitate to ask for additional information or any educational materials that might be available for patients (which a good allergy specialist should provide).
What to Expect at the Allergist’s Office
Your first visit to a certified Arizona allergist will include a physical examination and communicating your complete medical history. This is a crucial step and you should try to be as thorough as possible. Remember to bring any relevant medical documents with you. Be sure to mention any childhood allergies, your current symptoms, as well as any medication you might be taking. A detailed picture of your condition will help your doctor determine which allergens may be responsible and test you specifically for them.
Allergy tests are suitable for people of all ages, including children. Skin tests are by far the most common. They are reliable, and provide fast results. Examples include the skin prick test, the intradermal, and the patch test. Blood tests are also available for investigating allergies, but these are more expensive and you will have to wait several days for your results. Nonetheless, blood testing is useful occasionally. When allergen exposure during a skin test could result in a severe reaction, when a patient suffers from a severe skin condition like eczema, or they cannot stop taking medication prior to testing, blood tests are a good alternative.
Why Repeating Your Allergy Test is Important
Your doctor may recommend retesting in some cases. If, for example, you are on medication and your symptoms return, change or worsen, or if you develop symptoms in a new season, you will most likely need to repeat your tests. Furthermore, people often develop new allergies over time, so it is necessary to identify these new triggers and pick up anything that previous tests might have missed. Another appropriate time for retesting is before beginning an immunotherapy plan. Your doctor will most likely want to check again for specific allergens before administering allergy shots.
Dealing with allergies and asthma is not just about treating the symptoms. A well-thought plan designed by you and your doctor will keep you one step ahead of your allergies. With the right preparation, you will be able to deal with this fall’s allergies and improve your quality of life significantly. So, don’t delay your appointment with your allergist this summer.
WATCH – Why allergy season gets worse every year
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