Allergic to your allergy medicine? These tests can help

Sometimes the treatment is worse than the condition itself; that's what happens when people with allergies are allergic to the medication they take to relieve their symptoms.

And sometimes the reaction can be life-threatening, but treatments for people with sensitive systems are now available.

Sandy Denbraber is allergic to her favorite things, working in her garden or playing frisbee with her dog, Katie. It turns out, Denbraber is also allergic to allergy medicine.

"Every time I took an antihistamine, the problem got worse, and so at that time, my throat would start swelling and I'd start turning purple," Denbraber said.

After several hospitalizations, Denbraber finally found relief. Dr. Alfred Johnson specializes in chemical sensitivity and environmental exposure. In addition to seasonal allergies, Denbraber is also hypersensitive to smells and chemicals, including the ingredients found in allergy medicines.

"She was reacting to incipients in the medicine, either the dyes, or some of the additives," Dr. Johnson, internal medicine specialist at Johnson Medical Associates, said.

Dr. Johnson pinpoints people's sensitivity through extensive skin testing and uses allergy shots containing no preservatives or dyes. He recommends that people with allergies avoid the allergen and boost their resistance with allergy shots.

Denbraber, a retired registered nurse, makes charcoal filtered masks for severe allergy patients. But with her allergies under control, she'd much rather be outside playing with Katie.

Experts say there are no cures for allergies, just prevention to control the symptoms. The most common allergy triggers are: tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; and cat, dog and rodent dander.

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