How Can Our Allergy Nurse Help You?
Learn about what services our allergy nurse offers and how they might be the right course of treatment for you
At St. Joseph’s Ear Nose & Throat Clinic we provide a complete range of allergy testing.
- Diagnostic allergy (skin) testing
- Administration of allergy treatment
- Education in home-environmental measures (allergy avoidance)
What is an Allergy Nurse?
An Allergy Nurse is a professional who specializes in the testing and treatment of allergies. An Allergy Nurse’s credentials include a degree from an accredited university program. As a Registered Nurse they are required to pass state boards and take continuing education courses each year.
People with allergy symptoms, such as the runny nose of allergic rhinitis, may at first suspect they have a cold – but the “cold” lingers on. It is important to see a doctor about any respiratory illness that lasts longer than a week or two. When it appears that the symptoms are caused by an allergy, the patient should see a physician who understands the diagnosis and treatment of allergies.
If the patient’s medical history indicates that the symptoms recur at the same time each year, the physician will work under the theory that a seasonal allergen (like pollen) is involved. Properly trained specialists recognize the pattern of potential allergens common during local seasons and the association between these patterns and symptoms. The medical history suggests which allergens are the likely culprits. The doctor also will examine the mucous membranes, which often appear pale or bluish in persons with allergic conditions.
When an allergic person first comes into contact with an allergen, the immune system treats the allergen as an invader and mobilizes to attack. The immune system does this by generating large amounts of a type of antibody (a disease-fighting protein) called immunoglobin E, or IgE. Each IgE antibody is specific for one particular allergenic (allergy-producing) substance. In the case of pollen allergy, the antibody is specific for each type of pollen: one type of antibody may be produced to react against oak pollen and another against weed pollen, for example.
Doctors use skin tests to determine whether a patient has IgE antibodies in the skin that react to a specific allergen. The doctor/nurse will use diluted extracts from allergens such as dust mites, pollens, or molds commonly found in the local area. The extract of each kind of allergen is injected under the patient’s skin with a tiny needle.
Skin tests are one way of measuring the level of IgE antibody in a patient. With a positive reaction, a small, raised, reddened area (called a wheal) with a surrounding flush (called a flare) will appear at the test site. Although such a reaction indicates that IgE antibody to a specific allergen is present in the skin, respiratory problems do not necesarily result.
Shots are given weekly and are recommended to be given for a period of 2-5 years to achieve maximum results. The shot mixture contains what the patient tested positive for (that can be treated) in a very small, dilute amount. These amounts are gradually increased so the patient becomes more tolerant of them.