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Allergy and Asthma Diagnosis and Treatment


McGovern Allergy and Asthma Clinic providers recommend possible preventive measures, or ways to avoid certain allergens. A McGovern provider may also recommend medications to prevent, or control, flare-ups of specific symptoms. As necessary, the consulting provider may recommend a course of allergy immunotherapy designed to desensitize the patient to the substances causing allergic reactions.  ​

Allergies Treated By McGovern Allergy & Asthma Clinic

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a severe, life threatening allergic reaction that can affect multiple organ systems of the human body. It is caused by an over-reaction of the immune system to a specific allergen. The most common allergens include foods, insect stings, medications and latex. Anaphylaxis can run in families and is more common in people that have asthma and other allergies.
 
It is important to diagnose and treat it immediately as it can be fatal. Epinephrine auto-injectors are commonly prescribed and can save lives. Diagnosing the cause of anaphylaxis is essential in order to prevent future events. Our doctors are highly trained in managing this disease.

Allergic Rhinitis and Sinusitis

One of the most common manifestations of allergies is allergic rhinitis and sinusitis (hay fever). These present with nasal congestion, facial pressure and thick nasal discharge that sometimes trigger cough.

Our sinuses are cavities within our facial bones, located behind the nose, around the eyes and in the cheekbones. When these sinuses become inflamed due to allergies, blockage can cause chronic symptoms and/or infections.
Our allergists will help you by diagnosing the nature of the rhinitis/sinusitis and by treating the allergies. Avoiding triggers, prescribing medications, and providing allergy desensitization or “allergy shots” are parts of our comprehensive treatment plan. Common indoor allergens include dust mites, molds or animal dander while pollens are the main outdoor ones. Properly managing allergies can sometimes prevent the need for surgery.

Eye Allergies

Eyes allergies can present as allergic conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the eyes due to an exaggerated response of our immune system to common allergens. It can present together with Allergic Rhinitis and Sinusitis (hay fever).Common symptoms include itchy, watery eyes and in more severe cases can present with pain, redness and swelling.
Our allergists will help you by diagnosing the nature of the conjunctivitis and by treating these allergies. Avoiding triggers, prescribing medications and providing allergy desensitization or “allergy shots” are parts of our comprehensive treatment plan. Common indoor allergens include dust mites, molds and animal dander while pollens are the main outdoor ones.

Skin Allergy

Allergic skin disease can commonly present as Atopic Dermatitis (eczema), Allergic Contact Dermatitis and as Urticaria (hives) and Angioedema (tissue swelling).
Atopic Dermatitis (atopic eczema) is the most common of all the allergic skin conditions affecting up to one in five infants and some adults. Environmental and/or food allergens can trigger an immune response that causes the skin to be inflamed and together with a damaged skin barrier, perpetuate the disease. Dry skin, itching, skin redness and breakdown are some of the usual symptoms that can progress to infections. This may be stressful for many patients because of other people's belief of the rash being contagious.
Confirming the diagnosis of eczema is important to identify the correct treatment which can include moisturizers, topical creams, ointments and sometimes antibiotics. Depending on each case, bleach baths and wet wraps can be prescribed. The above management can decrease social challenges in people with eczema due to the belief of others of the rash being contagious.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic Contact Dermatitis is an exaggerated response of the immune system when directly exposed to an allergen. The most common ones are nickel in jewelry and balsam of Peru in some foods and cosmetic products. Another example is poison ivy.
Our doctors will help you by diagnosing the culprit allergen (by performing patch testing to the most common allergens) and advising how to avoid them to prevent future exposures and skin flare ups. Treatment also includes topical creams and ointments as well as oral medications in severe cases.

Urticaria and Angioedema

Urticaria (hives or welts) are red, itchy, raised areas of the skin that appear on any part of the body. They may occur with angioedema or swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. When these occur in less than 6 weeks, they can be a result of viral infections, drug, food, stinging insect, or contact with environmental allergies. When they occur repeatedly for more than 6 weeks, they can be related to physical triggers (such as heat, cold, pressure, or sunlight), autoimmune problems (such as thyroid disorder), or sometimes to unidentifiable causes.
Angioedema that does not occur with urticaria is usually non-allergic in nature. It can be due to medication use (most commonly involved are the angiotensin-converting-enzyme-inhibitor medications for blood pressure), or to a familial condition called hereditary angioedema, or may be acquired secondary to underlying blood disorders.
Our doctors will guide you in identifying the cause of your urticaria/angioedema. They will obtain a thorough medical history and determine the most cost effective tests for you. They will provide treatment plans to maximize control of your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Patients with both urticaria and angioedema who fail standard therapy may be offered more advanced medications such as immunosuppressive drugs or omalizumab. Patients with hereditary and acquired angioedema are treated with special medications allergists are trained to use.

Stinging Insects Allergy

Common reactions to insects are swelling and redness at the site of an insect bite. However, people who are severely allergic can have a life threatening reaction called Anaphylaxis. These serious reactions can be triggered by honeybees, yellow jackets, paper wasps, hornets and fire ants. Avoiding these insects can be difficult; however certain measures such as avoiding brightly colored clothing and perfumes while outdoors can help. Covering sodas and sweet meals while camping or cooking outdoors and wearing closed toes shoes can also help if you experience anaphylaxis due to insects, carrying an epinephrine auto-injector in order to immediately use it is indicated.
Our doctors will help you diagnose the exact insect and guide you on avoidance and treatment. Allergen desensitization or “allergy shots” are an effective long-term treatment for this type of allergy. Our doctors will prescribe injections with increasing amounts of the allergen in order to allow your body to build immunity.

Food Allergies

Food allergies affect many children and adults. Symptoms include itching, swelling, rash, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain within minutes of ingesting the culprit food. In some cases, patients can develop a severe allergic response called anaphylaxis. Having an allergist manage food allergies is very important.
Our doctors can perform allergy testing to different types of foods and thoroughly assess your risk of developing an allergic reaction. They will give individualized anaphylaxis action plans to prepare you to manage food allergy reactions at home, at work, or at school. They will educate you on how to read food labels and how to avoid specific food groups. When appropriate, they may offer food challenges in clinic, which provides a safe and supervised environment to test your tolerance to the suspected food.

Asthma

Asthma is a long-term lung condition that results from persistent inflammation of the airways. Both adults and children with asthma can have symptoms including shortness of breath, chest tightness or heaviness, wheezing, cough, and difficulty breathing induced by physical activity or allergen exposure. Asthma severity can range from mild disease where patients experience symptoms intermittently, to severe disease where patients have daily limiting symptoms.
Our doctors will provide you comprehensive diagnostic and treatment plans to manage asthma, with the goal of controlling the underlying lung problem, resolving symptoms, and providing you with a better quality of life. They will determine the diagnosis, identify environmental triggers by allergy testing, perform lung function test, teach proper use of maintenance and rescue inhalers, and provide individualized asthma action plans. They are up to date in providing newly approved medications for asthma.
Because no two patients are alike, our in-house medical lab is designed to prepare antigens to meet each patient's specific immunotherapy requirements.