How Different Allergies Are Treated

Woman using asthma inhaler
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The treatment of allergies is dependent on the type of allergic disease in question. Often, allergy testing can aid in the treatment of allergies through allergen avoidance.

Atopic Dermatitis/Eczema Treatment

The treatment of atopic dermatitis involves three major components:

  • Avoidance of triggers
  • Maintaining good skin care
  • Use of appropriate medications when needed

Topical steroid creams are the preferred therapies for worsening of atopic dermatitis. Other options, for when symptoms are severe, include topical calcineurin inhibitors (such as Elidel and Protopic) and oral steroids. Sometimes, the use of oral antibiotics is needed if there is a skin infection accompanying atopic dermatitis.

Treatment of Food Allergies

The primary treatment of food allergies involves avoidance of the specific food to which a person is allergic. If the culprit food is accidentally eaten, aggressive treatment of the subsequent reaction with antihistamines and epinephrine may be necessary. Being prepared to recognize and treat an allergic reaction from food allergies may be the most important aspect of the treatment of food allergies.

Food Allergies Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis/Hay Fever

There are, in general, three options for the treatment of allergic rhinitis:

  • Avoidance of triggers
  • Medications
  • Allergy shots

Avoidance of allergic triggers is always the primary treatment method for allergic rhinitis. This form of treatment essentially costs nothing and has no side effects; however, avoidance of triggers is not always possible. Pet and house dust mite avoidance are possible; avoidance of airborne pollen and mold spores is not.

There are numerous medications available for the treatment of allergy symptoms. In general, a medication that works particularly well for one person may not work for another, especially when the allergy symptoms are different. Medication options include nasal steroids and nasal antihistamines, oral antihistamines, oral decongestants, and oral anti-leukotrienes such as Singulair (montelukast).

When medications fail to adequately control allergy symptoms and avoidance of the trigger is not easy or possible, allergy shots are another treatment option. This treatment consists of a series of injections containing small amounts of the substances to which a person is allergic. After a course of allergy shots, 80 to 90% of patients have fewer allergy symptoms and, in many cases, allergy symptoms are completely resolved.

Asthma Treatment

In general, there are 2 types of asthma medications: rescue and controller medicines. Most asthmatics require both medications. Rescue medicines are those that are taken as needed. This means that these medicines should be carried by the person with asthma since an asthma attack can never be predicted. Rescue medicines help relax the muscle around the airways for a few hours, but they do not help the inflammation and swelling of the airways.

Controller medicines are those medicines that are taken every day (sometimes multiple times a day), regardless of asthma symptoms. These medicines are taken all of the time in order to control the inflammation and swelling of the airways. This leads to less irritation and constriction of the muscles around the airways and, therefore, fewer asthma symptoms. These medicines usually take a few days to weeks to start working. A person with asthma then notices that less and less rescue medicine is needed.

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