Allergy Information and Allergy Testing at Francis Holistic Medical Center
We offer several types of skin testing and treatments. These include Provocative Neutralization testing, Allergen Patch testing, and conventional allergy testing.
What is an allergy? An allergy is an unpleasant physical reaction that you experience when your body is exposed to a substance to which you are hypersensitive. Such substances, which are harmless to many people, are called allergens. In other words, an allergen is any substance that can cause your body to react. An allergy is your body's way of saying, "I don't like it."
You are not alone. At least 40 million Americans have allergies serious enough to benefit from professional help.
Recognizing your allergy. Nose - nasal itching, congestion, sneezing, post-nasal drip, watery discharge, commonly associated with "hay fever" or allergic rhinitis Eyes - itching, redness, swelling, tearing, and other conjunctivitis symptoms Ears - fluid in the middle ear, and recurrent ear infections Lungs - asthmatic symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and coughing Skin (including lips, inside of mouth/ears) - itchy welts or "hives" (urticaria) of varying sizes Skin (contact dermatitis) - blistery rash, intense itching Skin (eczema) - dry itchy rash Digestive tract - stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea (associated with food allergy) Other possible allergy symptoms include headaches, fatigue, hyperactivity, and depression
How do you "get" an allergy? You can develop an allergy at any age. For most people, however, symptoms first appear during early childhood after exposure to the offending allergen. Allergens invade the body in different ways, seeking out various "target issues." We inhale them in the air we breathe. We swallow them in our food and drink. We absorb them through our skin by touching objects around us. Some allergens enter the body through injection. Drugs, like penicillin, and venom from certain insects often cause allergic reactions. Other allergens are seasonal, like pollen, and bother us only during certain times of the year.
The body responds. When your body encounters a foreign substance, your body's immune system automatically produced antibodies to protect you. If you are hypersensitive, your immune system is likely to over react, causing excess production of an antibody like IgE. Excess IgE or other antibodies seek out and attach themselves to target issues. There they remain, on call, ready to be activated whenever your body encounters the offending allergen. Once activated, antibodies cause the release of inflammatory chemicals that, in turn, produce your allergy symptoms. Of course the nature of your symptoms depends on the location of the target issue - that part of your body that is hypersensitive to the offending allergen.
Could your allergy be psychological? Allergy is primarily a physical disorder. Even so, your allergic target tissues can be affected by strong emotions: fear, anger, and worry. Thus, under stressful conditions, your body is more likely to react to allergic attack.
Your allergic threshold. Your body's level of resistance to allergic attack will vary depending on certain conditions: the number of allergens you are exposed to at an given time, your general health and emotional state, whether you already have an illness, how much rest you've been getting, or even a change in the weather. The presence (or absence) of such factors can actually increase or decrease your vulnerability.
Was your allergy inherited? It's possible that you may have inherited a tendency to develop allergy. You have a 75% chance if both your parents have a history of allergy and a 50% chance if only one of your parents was affected.
Diagnosing your allergy. The first step in successfully treating your allergy is to find the cause. Your doctor will ask many questions about your allergic history and give you a thorough physical examination. This may be sufficient to identify the cause of your problem accurately. In most cases, more extensive investigation is necessary. Your doctor may give you a simple blood test or skin test, or both. (Until recently, skin-testing was the only method available. In this procedure, a liquid extract of the suspected allergen is injected or "scratched" into the patient's skin. If a welt develops, the allergy is confirmed.) Detecting a food allergy is often the most difficult. If food is suspected as the source of your allergy, your doctor may prescribe an "elimination diet." In this procedure, all "suspect" foods would be eliminated from your diet - then returned, one by one - the purpose being to isolate and identifying the offending food.
Current and New Allergy Patients: If you are a current patient and you will be having allergy testing, please click on this link to information describing our testing procedures and guidelines to prepare for the testing.
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We provide integrative, functional medicine in Central Massachusetts in the Worcester area. Many of our patients come from Boston and the Metrowest Boston area as well as all areas of Massachusetts and the other New England states.
(C) Copyright 2013 and 2016 Francis Holistic Medical Center, Last Modified: April 17, 2017 at 3:47 pm EST