You come home after a day away, step into the house, and the symptoms hit: Watery eyes, scratchy throat, congestion. Could it be indoor allergies?
Allergies are very common. An estimated 50 million Americans are allergic to everything from dust and dander, to mold and mites.
But what about you? How can you be sure you have indoor allergies -- and pinpoint what’s causing them? To help you understand what’s behind your allergy symptoms, WebMD got tips from experts on how to recognize common allergy...
Some questions: Your doctor will want details about the medicines you've been using, your symptoms, and your health.
Blood tests: If you’ve had a serious skin reaction, your doctor may ask for these to check how your organs are working and to see if there are any other signs of an allergic reaction.
Other tests: Depending on your case, your doctor may need to see some other things, like a chest X-ray.
Treatment: If your symptoms are severe, your doctor will give you medicine to help control the reaction.
Diagnosing and Managing a Drug Allergy
After the exam, your doctor may suggest:
Switching drugs: If your doctor thinks you are allergic to a drug, he will have you stop using that drug and may switch you to a different one.
Allergy testing: If there's any doubt if you are truly allergic, he may want you to have more tests. Keep in mind that the tests don’t work for all drugs.
Trying to reduce your reaction: If switching drugs isn't an option -- and you must keep taking a drug for your health -- your doctor may suggest something called desensitization.
You would get a small dose of the drug and then it would be raised gradually. The slow increase may get your body more used to the drug and lower your risk of an allergic reaction. It’s done in the hospital or doctor’s office.
Desensitization is not a cure. It’s only temporary. It doesn't work for everyone and it has risks. But it's one way for you to keep getting a medicine you need.
If you have an allergy, your doctor will advise you on how to protect yourself. Some good first steps include: