Allergy (literally “altered response“) refers to an immune response to larger substances that come in contact with our tissues. The term “larger” refers to anything from the size of a pollen grain to a parasite such as a tape worm (which can be many feet in length and live inside the intestinal tract). Allergies are protective reactions that defend us. However, if the strength of the defensive efforts of the immune response is too great, these “defenses” can themselves become injurious.
- Allergies (medical term: “atopy”) to small invaders, such as pollen, dust mites, molds spores and foodstuffs, are noticed by symptoms of itching, sneezing, mucus overproduction and stinging sensations.
- Allergens can be swallowed and cause gastrointestinal upset with throat itching, swallowing problems, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting and rash.
- Inhaled allergens can cause sore throat, hoarseness, asthma symptoms, nasal congestion and runny nose.
- All external surfaces of the body can be affected by allergies: skin, nose, throat, larynx, trachea, lungs, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and the female reproductive tract.
- A patient’s allergic state can be determined with blood tests to look for an increase in certain white blood cells (eosinophils), increases in specific antibodies against an allergic substance in the blood and surface injection or scratching of skin with allergen (skin testing).
- Once a person’s allergic profile is determined, a technique called desensitization can be used. This involves presenting an allergen to skin or mucus membrane continuously over a period of time. This can blunt the response to the allergen and reduce or eliminate the allergic symptoms.
- Dr. Volpi uses blood testing to determine an allergic patient’s allergy profile. Treatment, if necessary, may be started with sublingual (“under the tongue”) allergy drops three times a day. Most patients begin to get relief with this technique by three months. Drops are continued for at least 6 months, after which the patient is re-evaluated.
- Office visits during the use of drops is very important.