Allergies Specialist
Allergies affect many Americans, and they are a leading cause of chronic illness across the country. Allergies are also on the rise, meaning more and more people develop them each year. As an otolaryngologist, Dr. Michel Babajanian specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies that affect the ear, nose, and throat. From his state-of-the-art office in Century City, he serves patients from communities in the Los Angeles area.

Allergies Q & A

by Michel Babajanian, MD, FACS

What causes an allergy attack?

Your immune system is your body’s internal shield designed to protect you from illness-causing bacteria and viruses. This defensive system also safeguards you from allergens, which normally are harmless. For some people, though, allergens cause the immune system to overreact. Your body releases chemicals called histamines to protect you from what your immune system thinks is a dangerous allergen. This is when you feel the effects of having an allergy.

Allergies are a chronic condition, meaning they last for a long time or occur often. Anyone can be born with an allergy or develop one during their lifetime. Although allergies cannot be prevented, allergic reactions can be prevented or treated once an allergy has been diagnosed.

Which allergies affect the ear, nose, and throat?

As a physician who specializes in allergies that affect the ear, nose, and throat, Dr. Babajanian diagnoses and treats hay fever, chronic sinusitis, and seasonal and perennial rhinitis. These allergies are mostly triggered by one or more of the following airborne allergens:

  • Pollen: In the early spring, allergic rhinitis is typically caused by pollen from trees. Although flowering springtime plants are often blamed for allergies, they rarely cause them because their pollen is too heavy to be airborne. Certain types of grass produce allergy-inducing pollen in late spring. In early to mid-autumn, ragweed is a major cause of allergic rhinitis.    
  • Mold: Mold spores are present throughout the year, both outdoors and indoors. Dead leaves, mulch, indoor plants, bathrooms, old books, and damp areas are places where mold is found.    
  • Household allergens: These ever-present allergens are present all year long and include dust mites and pet dander as well as mold. Symptoms brought on by household allergens are worse in the wintertime when closed doors and windows reduce airflow and ventilation.

What are typical allergy symptoms?

An allergic reaction usually triggers symptoms in the respiratory tract, including your nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs, but symptoms can also affect your ears. For some people, an allergic reaction may also trigger asthma. The severity of your symptoms depends on the how allergic you are to the allergen. Common allergy symptoms include:

  • Coughing, sore throat, or laryngitis
  • Sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, or congestion
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Red, itchy, or swollen eyes
  • Otitis media, a painful middle-ear inflammation

How are these allergies diagnosed and treated?

With his unparalleled expertise and experience, Dr. Babajanian can typically get to the root of an undiagnosed allergy problem within a single appointment, which includes a consultation, examination, and diagnostic allergy testing using the skin prick method. After finding out which allergens trigger a reaction, he may perform intradermal testing (which involves injecting a small amount of the allergen into your skin) to check your sensitivity levels.

After reaching a diagnosis, Dr. Babajanian develops an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment always includes helping patients learn how to avoid allergens whenever possible. For patients who would benefit, Dr. Babajanian can recommend over-the-counter and prescription medications (such as antihistamines and decongestants) to help control symptoms. He also offers immunotherapy treatments, also known as allergy shots or desensitization injections, to help alter your body’s response to the allergen over time.

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Michel Babajanian, MD, FACS
2080 Century Park East
Suite 1700
Los Angeles, CA 90067