Allergy Conditions We Treat
Asthma is a long-term (chronic) lung condition. It involves the airways (bronchial tubes). It happens when a trigger causes your airways to swell and become narrow. The muscles around your airways start to tighten. When your airways start to narrow, air can't move in and out of your lungs very well. Mucus also builds up along the airways. This makes it even harder to move air in and out of your lungs.Experts are not exactly sure what causes asthma. It may be caused by a mix of inherited and environmental factors. People with asthma may have no symptoms until they are exposed to an allergen or trigger.
Asthma is a long-term condition. So it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to manage it. If you have asthma, you can prevent flare-ups. Develop an asthma action plan with your health care provider. It can help control your asthma and manage your symptoms. An asthma action plan also tells you and your family or friends what to do if your asthma flares up or gets worse.
Take your medicine as prescribed. Also learn about your asthma triggers. Knowing what causes your asthma to flare up in the first place can help you prevent future breathing problems. If you smoke, get help quitting.
Allergic & Non-Allergic Rhinitis
Rhinitis is when a reaction occurs that causes a stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, and itching. Most types of rhinitis are caused by an inflammation and lead to symptoms in the eyes, ears, or throat. There are several types of rhinitis.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, also referred to as hay fever, is triggered by allergens that come and go with the seasons.
People with asthma are at a higher risk for rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is a common problem that may be linked to asthma. But this link is not fully understood. Experts think that since rhinitis makes it hard to breathe through the nose, it is harder for the nose to work normally. Breathing through the mouth does not warm, filter, or humidify the air before it enters the lungs. This can make asthma symptoms worse.
Asthma and allergies are also caused by many of the same chemical triggers in the body. Controlling allergic rhinitis may help control asthma in some people.
Staying away from the allergens that are causing the problem is the best treatment. Sometimes it can be hard to stay away from triggers (including allergens), such as pollens. The symptoms of rhinitis sometimes look like other conditions or health problems. Always see your health care provider for a diagnosis.
Non-allergic rhinitis is a form of the illness that doesn't involve an allergic response. Symptoms are usually chronic, rather than being affected by seasonal changes. Some people suffer from both kinds of rhinitis.
Chronic sinusitis is a long-term swelling or infection of the sinuses. If sinusitis lasts more than 12 weeks, it is called chronic.
Problems that irritate the mucosa or block drainage can lead to chronic sinusitis. These may include:
- Chronic allergies
- Nasal polyps, deviated septum, or other blockages
- Constant exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke or fumes
- Acute sinusitis that keeps coming back
Symptoms may include:
- Facial pain and pressure
- Headache and sinus pain
- Nasal congestion
- Thick, colored drainage from the nose
- Thick mucus draining down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage)
- Loss of smell
- Sore throat
Treatment involves reducing irritation and inflammation. Your plan may include:
- Medication. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to reduce the amount of mucus and swelling. These help unblock the sinuses and allow them to drain. You will need to take antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection.
- Flushing your sinuses. Your doctor may suggest sinus irrigation. This is flushing your sinuses with saltwater or saline solution. This helps to clear out mucus.
- Controlling allergies. If you have allergies, you should have a plan to help control them. This plan may include medicines or allergy shots.
- Controlling nasal irritants. If you smoke, ask your health care provider for resources to help you stop smoking.
- Having surgery. In some cases, you may need surgery on the nose, sinuses, or both. This can improve sinus drainage or remove nasal blockages.
Work-related lung diseases are lung problems that are made worse in certain work environments. They are caused by long-term exposure to certain irritants that are breathed into the lungs. Particles in the air from many sources cause these lung problems. These sources include factories, smokestacks, exhaust, fires, mining, construction and agriculture. The smaller the particles are, the more damage they can do to the lungs. Smaller particles are easily inhaled deep into the lungs. There, they are absorbed into the body instead of being coughed out.
Work-related asthma is caused by breathing in dusts, gases, fumes and vapors. It causes asthma symptoms such as a chronic cough and wheezing. This condition can be reversed if found early. You are at higher risk for getting this illness if you work in certain environments. These include manufacturing and processing operations, farming, animal care, food processing, cotton and textile industries and refining operations.
Coughing helps you expel mucus, microbes and other foreign particles from your respiratory tract. This helps protect the lungs from infection and inflammation. However, a cough becomes chronic if it lingers for at least three to eight weeks.
Its list of reasons for a chronic cough includes:
- Postnasal drip
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Chronic bronchitis
- ACE-inhibitor medications
Prevent sinus headaches by:
- Treating colds promptly to keep mucus from backing up
- Avoiding things that trigger sinus problems, such as pollens, dust, cigarette smoke, fumes, air pollution and strong odors
- Taking allergy medicines as directed by your health care provider
Relieve the pain of sinus headaches by:
- Keeping your sinuses open and free of mucus
- Using a nasal decongestant as directed to reduce the inflammation
- Drinking plenty of fluids to keep the mucus thinner, which helps it drain more easily
- Using a humidifier
- Applying hot packs to the area around your sinuses
See your health care provider if your sinus headache lasts more than 2 weeks. You may need medicine for a sinus infection or an exam to check for other headache conditions, like migraines..
Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Atopic dermatitis is a long-term (chronic) skin disorder. This condition is a type of eczema. Eczema is a general term that includes conditions that make the skin red, itchy and inflamed. Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. So it is often called eczema.
This condition causes dry, itchy, scaly patches. These are often on the face and the head in babies. It’s most common in infants or very young children. Most will show signs of the condition in the first year of life. Symptoms may last until the teens or adulthood. It rarely starts in adulthood. It is not contagious.
Atopic dermatitis tends to run in families. This suggests a genetic link. It’s also linked to asthma and allergies. These are immune hypersensitivity disorders.
Treatment for this condition is aimed at calming the skin inflammation, decreasing the itching and preventing infections. Good skin care and medicine to control itching and infection are used.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. There is no cure. The goals of treatment are to reduce itching and skin inflammation, to keep the skin moist, and to prevent infection.Your healthcare provider may also prescribe medication in severe cases.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is a reaction that happens after your skin comes in contact with certain substances.
Skin irritants cause most contact dermatitis reactions. Other cases are caused by allergens, which trigger an allergic response. The reaction may not start until 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Contact dermatitis happens from direct contact with the offending agent.
Contact dermatitis most commonly affects adults, but it can affect people of all ages.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. The best treatment is to identify and avoid the substances that may have caused the reaction. These are common treatment recommendations for mild to moderate reactions:
- Thoroughly wash the skin with soap and water as soon after the exposure as possible.
- Wash clothing and all objects that touched plant resins (poison ivy/oak) to prevent re-exposure.
- Use wet, cold compresses to soothe inflammation if blisters are broken.
- Use barrier creams to block certain substances if there is a chance of re-exposure in the future.
- Use medicines recommended by your healthcare provider to relieve itching. You may need to put the medicine on your skin or take the medicine by mouth.
- Cortisone creams are used topically to relieve itching
- Oral or injected steroids and oral antihistamines are used to control the itching and rash
- Avoid scratching the rash to prevent a bacterial infection.
For severe reactions, always contact your health care provider. If the reaction is significant and the substance that caused it can't be determined, your health care provider may do a series of patch tests to help identify the irritant.
Hives are red, itchy, raised bumps on the skin. They often last less than 12 hours in one part of the skin.
Hives may last for a short or long time. If hives last for a short time, the cause could be an allergic reaction from eating certain foods or taking certain medicines. Or they could be from a viral infection. In some cases, hives can occur without a specific trigger. When hives come and go long-term (lasting weeks), the cause often isn’t known.
Hives are a common allergic reaction to these foods:
But any food allergy could cause hives. You may also get hives from certain medicines.
Hives may go away without treatment, especially if they are caused by an allergic reaction. Staying away from the food, medicine, or other trigger can ease your symptoms.
If your symptoms last for some time or keep coming back, these treatments may help:
- Antihistamines. These medicines can ease itching and keep the hives from appearing.
- Other medicines. Steroids may help if antihistamines don’t work. In severe cases, an injectable medicine called omalizumab may be used.
Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening reaction to something you're allergic to. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. You can have a reaction to an allergen within seconds or as long as an hour after contact. The kind of allergen can vary. Some of the most common causes include:
- Bee stings
- Dyes used for medical tests
- Allergy shots
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and requires urgent medical care. Treatment will likely include a shot of epinephrine. This will help stop the bad effects caused by the allergen. Epinephrine given shortly after the exposure can reverse the symptoms. After the treatment, you will need to be watched to make sure you do not have any further reactions. Your health care provider can teach you how to use an epinephrine autoinjector in case there is another exposure.
The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to stay away from known allergy triggers.
A food allergy is when your immune system has a bad reaction to a certain food. This is different from a food intolerance, which does not affect the immune system. This is true even though some of the same signs may be present.
Your body’s immune system fights off infections and other dangers to keep you healthy. When your immune system senses that a food or something in a food is a danger to your health, you may have a food allergy reaction. Your immune system sends out IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies. These react to the food or substance in the food. Your body releases histamine and other substances. This can cause hives, asthma, itching in the mouth, trouble breathing, stomach pains, vomiting or diarrhea. It does not take much of the food to cause a severe reaction in highly allergic people.
Most food allergies are caused by these foods:
- Tree nuts
At this time, no medicine is available to prevent food allergy. The goal of treatment is to stay away from the food that causes the symptoms. This includes speaking up when you are at a restaurant or at friends' homes. Let them know that you have a food allergy. Don't be shy. And be clear that you could have a severe reaction if you eat a food you are allergic to, even in small amounts.
If you have a food allergy, carry an epinephrine shot to treat emergency reactions. Know how to give yourself this shot. You must be ready to treat any allergic reaction caused by eating a food by mistake that you are sensitive to. You need an emergency kit to stop severe reactions. Talk with your healthcare provider about what to do with the kit.
Medicines are available to treat some symptoms of food allergy after the food has been eaten. These medicines may ease nose and sinus symptoms, digestive symptoms or asthma symptoms.
A medication allergy is when your immune system has a bad reaction to a certain medication. This can be caused by any kind of medication. Symptoms to a drug allergy can include hives, rash or fever. Always let your health care provider know about any medication allergies.
Insect Sting Allergy
Avoiding insect stings may not always be possible. But it's important to know how to respond if you have an allergic reaction from an insect sting.
Insects that most commonly cause allergic reactions include:
- Honey bees
- Yellow jackets
- Fire ants
Individuals who are allergic to insect stings can have life-threatening reactions. This severe reaction is a medical emergency that can happen very quickly. It is called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock. It can include severe symptoms such as:
- Itching and hives over most of the body
- Swelling of the throat and tongue
- Trouble breathing and chest tightness
- Stomach cramps, nausea, or diarrhea
- Quick drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue
Call 911. Immediate medical care is needed. If you have an epinephrine auto-injector pen, use it as directed.
Nasal polyps are abnormal, soft, swollen, sac-like growths of inflamed tissue. They line the inside of your nose or your sinuses. The sinuses are a group of air-filled spaces inside the bones of your face. They connect with the nasal cavity. Normally these spaces are fairly open, but nasal polyps can grow large enough to block them. This can cause trouble breathing.
Nasal polyps are a subgroup of chronic rhinosinusitis. This is a condition where the nasal cavity and sinuses are inflamed for more than four to 12 weeks. But not all people with this condition will develop nasal polyps.
Other types of growths sometimes form in the nasal cavity. Some of these types may be cancer. But true nasal polyps are not cancer.
Nasal polyps are fairly common and anyone can have them.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment aims to reduce inflammation, as well as the size of your polyps. Health care providers often start treatment with steroid medicines inhaled through the nose. These medicines can decrease the inflammation at the root of the problem. People who don’t respond to this might need steroid medicines taken by mouth.
Other treatments for nasal polyps include:
- Medicines to help decrease inflammation
- Antibiotics to help reduce polyp size
- Daily rinsing of the sinuses with a saltwater solution
- Antihistamines, to reduce allergic reactions
- Allergen immunotherapy and removal of allergens, if possible
- Aspirin desensitization therapy, if appropriate
You may still have symptoms despite these other therapies. If this is the case, surgery may help. Surgery does often get rid of most symptoms. But the polyps may come back within a few months to a few years. It is important to address the underlying cause of your nasal polyps to help prevent this from happening. After your surgery, you may need to take inhaled nasal steroids to help keep the polyps from returning.
Your immune system is made up of a large network of cells, tissues, and organs. They work together to fight off infections and other harmful substances. But the immune system doesn’t always work the way it should.
Some disorders make the immune system unable to fight off infections. In other disorders, the immune system actually attacks the body’s cells or organs, as it would attack an infection. This is what happens in autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
The treatment of primary immunodeficiencies is complex and may include:
- Preventing infection. People who have immune disorders must work hard to not get an infection. Basic hygiene is very important. This includes hand-washing. But it is also important to not be around crowds or people who have colds and illnesses.
- Long-term follow-up. Immune disorders mean an ongoing risk of infection. Work with your health care team to keep you as healthy as possible.
- Immunoglobulin therapy. IV infusions of immunoglobulin (antibodies) may be given to help boost your immune system and replace the immunoglobulins that are needed.
- Medication. Antibiotics to treat and prevent infection, as prescribed by your health care provider.
- Treating existing infections. Antibiotics or antifungal treatments may be needed to treat the current infection. With severe infections, hospitalization may be needed.
- Treating the immune deficiency. Treatment depends on the immune disorder. Treatments may include bone marrow transplants, and enzyme or antibody replacement therapy.
Mastocytosis/Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
This is a rare condition that causes repeated episodes of allergic symptoms and anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include hives, swilling, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and severe diarrhea.
These are rare blood disorders that occur when your blood has high numbers of a certain type of white blood cell. Our allergists and immunologists have specialized training to diagnose and treat Hypereosinophilic Syndrome (HES).
Angioedema is a type of allergic reaction that sometimes happens along with hives. It causes swelling deep in the skin. This occurs especially around the face, lips, throat, and eyes. Swelling can make it hard to breathe. If this happens, seek medical care right away.