Treatment of Allergic Diseases
Patient Information and Education
The tests will help identify the causative allergens, subsequently their avoidance (where possible) is recommended. The allergist will provide verbal and written instructions to make changes appropriate to your environment and diet to reduce (and try and eliminate) the contact with the causative allergens. Often, patients wonder what can be done to change their environment. There are a number of measures which, if correctly and regularly applied, have been found very useful in reducing allergen content. When it comes to dietary allergens, specific and careful recommendations are made for the patient in order to ensure avoidance of the allergen. In order to prevent any dietary or nutritional deficiencies, the allergist will advise about the appropriate nutritional substitutions and where relevant, prescribe appropriate medication if supplementation is required.
Once allergen avoidance has been implemented, the allergist will assess the baseline residual symptoms, the degree of improvement and the success of the allergen avoidance. This is usually done after a trial without medication or on lower doses of maintenance therapy in order to get a realistic view of the symptoms and response to allergen avoidance. Once this information has been received, the appropriate doses and treatment regimes will be advised and prescribed. The allergist or your regular doctor will then follow up your treatment schedule.
Certain (doctor-selected) patients who cannot implement allergen avoidance measures; or who do not respond well to allergen avoidance and conventional drug therapy may be advised to have allergen immunotherapy (desensitization/allergy shots/drops). This is a form of medication which alters the body’s immune system from producing allergic antibody responses to normal antibody responses. This form of treatment actually alters the disease process with lasting effects of many years after treatment.
For patients who suffer from anaphylaxis (severe or life threatening allergic reactions), it is important for the patient, parents or spouse, school teacher or work colleague to be trained on how to recognize the symptoms, manage the acute reaction and administer the life saving emergency treatment (called adrenaline which can be self administered) while waiting for emergency services to arrive (or to stabilize the patient in order to safely transport to the nearest medical facility). This specialized training is done by the allergist (in accordance with international standards and guidelines) and written information is given to the patient/relative/school teacher.