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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

St. Petersburg doctor says there are several options available for allergy testing

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• More than 23 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever.

• Ragweed allergy is a common cause of hay fever.

• Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for allergy sufferers.

Tampa Bay Breathe Free Sinus & Allergy Centers'Dr. Mariah Pate offered insights into allergy testing options when speaking with East Hillsborough News.

"Everyone thinks testing is this terrible procedure that is hundreds of things on the back. There's a couple of different ways to do allergy testing," Pate said. "The first is the skin test. It's become much more specific over the years -- a couple of scratches and pokes on the arm to see what people are allergic to. Another option is to do a blood test, which picks up allergen reactivity in the blood. It will depend on the patient and which test they're the best candidate for."

According to the Allergy & Asthma Network, over 23 million U.S. residents suffer from allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever, and one of the most common causes is an allergy to ragweed. Ragweed allergy sufferers often feel their symptoms peak in mid-September, with symptoms tending to last until November.

Ragweed plants can be found across the country, and their pollen exists in every state. Common symptoms include a runny nose, watery nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes and nose, and hives. Asthmatic allergy sufferers could also experience a flareup in asthma symptoms if they inhale ragweed pollen. Due to this, asthma-related hospitalizations spike in mid-September.

To minimize symptoms, allergy sufferers can do the following: Premedicate with a nasal spray or antihistamine, change clothing and take a shower after arriving indoors, wear a mask while outside, keep windows and doors closed, and monitor ragweed pollen counts. Those with ragweed allergies should also avoid certain foods botanically related to ragweeds, such as bananas, mangoes, artichokes, cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelons, sunflower seeds, and zucchini.

According to WebMD, doctors diagnose allergies by reviewing a patient's symptoms and medical history and then recommending either a blood or skin test. During a skin test, the doctor will place a small allergen sample on the patient's forearm or back. If the patient is allergic to the sample, a small, itchy bump will appear.

Your doctor could recommend various treatment options depending on the type and severity of your allergies, according to Mayo Clinic. Moderate treatments include over-the-counter medications, nasal sprays, allergy shots, and immunotherapy. Severe allergy sufferers could be recommended to carry an emergency epinephrine shot, such as an EpiPen.

If you're suffering from allergy symptoms and are interested in treatment options, take this Sinus Self-Assessment Quiz.

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