Allergies begin when your immune system perceives a substance as something that’s harmful, then produces antibodies to recognize and neutralize that substance. Every time the substance enters your body, the immune system releases histamines. The histamines cause the diverse symptoms associated with allergies.
The substances that cause allergies, called allergens, come from a variety of possible sources:
Airborne allergens: These include pollen, dust mites, mold, and pet dander.
Contact allergens: Poison ivy, poison, oak, soaps, hand sanitizers, perfume, cleaning products, and latex may cause symptoms when they touch your skin.
Insect stings: Honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants inject allergy-causing venom.
Pet allergies: Proteins in animal saliva, dander, and urine can trigger allergies.
Food allergies: Most food allergies are caused by peanuts, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
Symptoms often depend on the substance causing the allergies. Here are a few examples:
Allergic rhinitis (hay fever): Sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, and an itchy nose, eyes, or mouth
Atopic dermatitis: Rash, red skin, and itchy, dry skin. Mothers should be aware that eczema may develop in their babies.
Food allergy: Tingling mouth, swelling of lips, tongue, face or throat, hives, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
Insect sting: Swelling at the sting site, itching or hives, cough, chest tightness, wheezing
Some types of allergies, especially food and insect stings, can cause a serious reaction called anaphylaxis. Symptoms such as lightheadedness, a swollen tongue, and shortness of breath can rapidly escalate to a drop in blood pressure, fainting, and shock. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical help.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy may cause non-allergic rhinitis. The body produces more blood during pregnancy, which affects the respiratory tract and causes congestion. Both of these conditions may seem like a cold or allergy. Your provider at Fairfax OB-GYN Associates can evaluate your symptoms and determine if allergy testing is needed.
Skin prick tests are used to identify allergens. A small amount of potential allergen is placed on the skin, then pricked with a small needle. Redness and swelling develop at the site if you’re allergic. Your provider at Fairfax OB-GYN Associates may prefer not to perform a skin test during pregnancy.
Blood tests may be used if you have a skin condition like eczema, when there’s concern that the test may cause a reaction, or if you take medications that interfere with skin test results.
Fairfax OB-GYN accepts most major insurance plans. Please call any of our offices to inquire about your particular insurance. We also accept self-pay patients and out of network patients and would be glad to assist you in arranging for payment of services. After services are provided, we will be glad to file claims to your insurance company on your behalf. We will assist you in making sure that your insurance pays us timely and appropriately for services we have provided to you. However, please know that ultimately you are financially responsible for payment of bills incurred. Any patient who schedules an appointment and fails to keep that appointment without providing 24 hour notice of cancellation will be responsible for a $100 no show fee. Any inquiries should be directed to the Billing Department at (703) 391-1500.
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