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Allergies: Online Diagnosis and Treatment

Each year, 50 million people struggle with a persistent runny nose, congestion, headache, itchy eyes and nose, or sneezing. Allergic rhinitis is the most common chronic disease in children and the fifth most common chronic disease overall in the U.S.1 While the cause is unknown, the percentage of people suffering from allergy symptoms is increasing, according to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC).2

Allergy symptoms can be miserable, leading people to seek allergy treatment or stay indoors during their bad seasons. Allergy symptoms can vary from nuisance to life-threatening.

Scheduling a consultation with a virtual doctor on the Telegra MD telehealth platform is simple and convenient. You will receive a diagnosis, a treatment protocol, and an appropriate online prescription to treat your allergies. Telehealth for allergy treatment makes it easy to consult with a virtual doctor and receive prescription medication to treat your allergies quickly and easily, even if you don’t have insurance.

What are allergies?

Allergies are the result of your immune system overreacting to a benign trigger. Your immune system protects you from pathogens. When the immune system mounts the same response to benign triggers such as pollen or dust mites as it does to an invasive bacterial or viral infection, allergic symptoms develop.

When an allergen enters the body through your nose or mouth, is injected, or is absorbed through the skin, the immune system responds by producing tears, mucus, and saliva to wash away allergens. Our immune system will produce immunoglobulin E that triggers specialized cells, such as mast cells and basophils, to release histamine and leukotrienes into the bloodstream. Blood vessels will dilate in response to histamine to bring more specialized immune cells to fight the allergen, which will cause redness, swelling, and itching.

Allergy word cloud

Can Allergies Be Treated Through Telehealth?

Yes, telehealth is an ideal option for treating allergies and asthma. Telemedicine for allergy treatment makes it easy to arrange a medical consultation with a virtual doctor to discuss your allergies and receive a prescription for allergy treatment. Assuming your Telegra MD virtual doctor agrees that your symptoms are consistent with allergies, they will send your online prescription to your local pharmacy electronically so you can get started on treatment as soon as possible.

Why Do You Get Allergies?

Allergies occur when your body reacts to harmless threats. While the specific allergens people react to vary, your allergic response is due to both genetic and environmental factors. Your allergens may also change over time. Potential allergens include:

  • Food
  • Particles inhaled into your lungs
  • Injections and medications
  • Objects you may touch

Common allergens:

  • Foods: cow’s milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts
  • Insect stings and bites
  • Pollen: trees, plants, grass
  • Animal dander
  • Dust mites
  • Latex
  • Medications
  • Mold spores
  • Perfumes
  • Household chemicals
Food allergens

What Are the Common Symptoms of Allergies?

Many people can diagnose allergies based on physical appearance. Watery eye discharge and runny nose are classic allergy symptoms. You may also notice swelling of the eye conjunctivae and swelling of the lower eyelid, the so-called “allergic shiner.” Itchiness of the eyes and nose can cause redness from rubbing. Especially in children, you may notice a crease at the tip of the nose from repeatedly pushing the nose upward when rubbing it. Throat clearing from postnasal drip and snoring from nasal congestion are also common symptoms.

Some common allergy symptoms include the following:

  • Runny, itchy eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Throat clearing
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives
  • Fatigue

In addition to these common allergy symptoms, allergies can cause more severe symptoms, including:

  • Cardiovascular: dizziness, fast heartbeat, fainting
  • Gastrointestinal: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, crampy abdominal pain
  • Mucosal membranes: swollen lips and tongues, eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing
  • Respiratory: itching in the ears or throat, the sensation of throat closing, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Skin: generalized hives, itching, or flushing

When Should You See a Doctor for Allergies?

See a doctor for allergies if your symptoms are not well controlled when using over-the-counter medications or you are unsure whether allergies cause your symptoms.

Warning signs and symptoms that suggest that something other than allergies may be contributing to your symptoms include:2

  • Bloody nose
  • Difficulty or inability to smell
  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Nasal blockage in one nostril
  • Nasal discharge from one nostril

Telehealth for allergies is the perfect option. You can schedule an online appointment with a virtual doctor using the Telegra MD platform and receive a diagnosis. Your virtual doctor can give you tips on preventing and treating your allergy symptoms and call in a prescription to a local pharmacy. Online doctors who treat allergies provide 24-hour appointment access, which means you can expect doctor access whenever you need it, leading to an earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Are Some People at Increased Risk of Allergies?

Yes, some people are at increased risk for allergies. Research has suggested the following factors may contribute to increased allergy symptoms:3,4

  • Family history of allergies, asthma, or eczema
  • Early use of antibiotics
  • Exposure to smoke in the first year of life
  • Maternal smoking during pregnancy
  • Increased exposure to indoor allergens
  • High serum immunoglobulin E levels before age 6

Factors that may be associated with a decreased risk for allergies include the following:3

  • Having siblings, especially younger siblings
  • Living on a farm
  • Early exposure to a pet (controversial)
A woman sitting in a field

How Do You Diagnose Allergies?

According to clinical practice guidelines, clinicians should make the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis when your symptoms are consistent with allergies, and you have one or more of the following symptoms: nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy nose, or sneezing.1

Several conditions are associated with allergies, including:1

Allergy testing is indicated if your symptoms do not respond to allergy treatment, your diagnosis is unclear, or you need targeted therapy toward a specific antigen.

To help better understand your allergic triggers, keep track of the symptoms you notice and the environment you are in when you notice them.1

  • Do your symptoms have a seasonal pattern, or are they always present? If your symptoms are in early spring, they may be due to tree pollen allergies; if late spring to early summer, grass pollen may be responsible; if your symptoms are worse in late summer to fall, weed allergies such as ragweed pollen may be the culprit. Mold allergies can cause symptoms year-round and worsen in buildings with high moisture levels.
  • Do your symptoms worsen inside or outside?
  • Do you notice your symptoms more around pets or particular plants?
  • Are you on any medications that may account for your symptoms?
  • Do you have a family history of allergies or asthma?

How do You Treat Allergies?

Allergy symptoms are treated with several types of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.

According to clinical guidelines, clinicians should prescribe intranasal steroids for anyone with allergy symptoms affecting their quality of life.

Examples of intranasal steroids:

  • Budesonide
  • Ciclesonide
  • Flunisolide
  • Fluticasone
  • Mometasone furoate
  • Qnasi
  • Triamcinolone

If sneezing and itching are primary symptoms, second-generation oral antihistamines should be prescribed to relieve symptoms. These medications are less sedating than first-generation antihistamines.

Examples of second-generation antihistamines include:

  • Cetirizine
  • Desloratadine
  • Fexofenadine
  • Levocetirizine
  • Loratadine

If you have seasonal, perennial, or episodic allergy symptoms, your doctor may also suggest using intranasal antihistamines.

Examples of intranasal antihistamines include:

  • Olopatadine
  • Azelastine
  • Azelastine plus fluticasone

If your symptoms do not respond to one type of medication, your doctor may suggest using a combination of these medications to better treat your symptoms.

Allergy treatment medications

Can You Prevent Allergies?

After learning what allergens you may potentially react to, make environmental control changes to reduce your exposure.1 

  • Add HEPA filters to vacuums and furnaces to reduce allergens.
  • Avoid exposure to foods, chemicals, perfumes, tobacco, and air pollution.
  • Control pet allergens with frequent bathing, brushing, and grooming.
  • Dustproof your home by removing unnecessary carpet, drapes, bedding, and upholstered furniture.
  • Encase mattresses and pillows in a zipped plastic, dust-mite-proof encasing.
  • Leave your shoes and coats in a mud room to avoid tracking allergens throughout your home.
  • Stay indoors with your windows closed during high-allergen times. Many weather apps report common allergens and their levels in your area.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.

The steps for treating allergies after consulting with a doctor online through telemedicine are similar to consulting with your local doctor. In both instances, you would:

  • Schedule an appointment: Typically, appointments to see virtual doctors through telehealth are much easier to make and are more convenient, as many telemedicine companies provide online telehealth services for allergy treatment at any time, day or night.
  • Provide a medical history: Whether filling out forms in your local doctor’s office or online before consulting with your virtual doctor, you will need to provide a medical history.
  • Consult with your doctor: After reviewing your medical history forms, your virtual doctor will determine whether your symptoms are consistent with allergies.
  • Treatment: If you are diagnosed with allergies, your virtual doctor will send a prescription for allergy treatment to your local pharmacy.

Disclaimer

While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

References

1. Seidman MD, Gurgel RK, Lin SY, Schwartz SR, Baroody FM, Bonner JR, Dawson DE, Dykewicz MS, Hackell JM, Han JK, Ishman SL, Krouse HJ, Malekzadeh S, Mims JW, Omole FS, Reddy WD, Wallace DV, Walsh SA, Warren BE, Wilson MN, Nnacheta LC; Guideline Otolaryngology Development Group. AAO-HNSF. Clinical practice guideline: Allergic rhinitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015 Feb;152(1 Suppl):S1-43. doi: 10.1177/0194599814561600. PMID: 25644617.

2. Asher MI, Montefort S, Björkstén B, Lai CK, Strachan DP, Weiland SK, Williams H; ISAAC Phase Three Study Group. Worldwide time trends in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in childhood: ISAAC Phases One and Three repeat multicountry cross-sectional surveys. Lancet. 2006 Aug 26;368(9537):733-43. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69283-0. Erratum in: Lancet. 2007 Sep 29;370(9593):1128. PMID: 16935684.

3. Matheson MC, Dharmage SC, Abramson MJ, Walters EH, Sunyer J, de Marco R, Leynaert B, Heinrich J, Jarvis D, Norbäck D, Raherison C, Wjst M, Svanes C. Early-life risk factors and incidence of rhinitis: results from the European Community Respiratory Health Study–an international population-based cohort study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Oct;128(4):816-823.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.05.039. Epub 2011 Jul 12. PMID: 21752439.

4. Saulyte J, Regueira C, Montes-Martínez A, Khudyakov P, Takkouche B. Active or passive exposure to tobacco smoking and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy in adults and children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Med. 2014 Mar 11;11(3):e1001611. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001611. Erratum in: PLoS Med. 2016 Feb;13(2):e1001939. PMID: 24618794; PMCID: PMC3949681.

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