More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic conditions, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the united states, causing decreased productivity and lost time from work and school for millions of individuals.
Physicians have found that allergic diseases can be controlled and their debilitating symptoms can be prevented or minimized. The key is the early diagnosis of the allergic condition and identification of the allergens responsible.
Allergy is defined as the tendency to develop adverse symptoms due to an immune response to normally innocuous substances. A huge variety of agents found in the environment can provoke an allergic response.
Commonly encountered allergens include substances such as mold spores, pollens, animal dander, dust, foods, venoms and drugs. Allergen exposure can occur through inhalation, ingestion, contact with skin or injection- either intentionally as occurs with certain medications or inadvertently as occurs through an insect sting.
The first step in the diagnosis of allergy involves recognition of characteristic symptoms identified from the patient’s clinical history and exam.