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Allergy & Asthma

Nasal Allergies / Sinus / Allergy Eyes

If you have allergic rhinitis, your immune system mistakenly identifies a typically harmless substance as an intruder. This substance is called an allergen. The immune system responds to the allergen by releasing histamine and chemical mediators that typically cause symptoms in the nose, throat, eyes, ears, skin and roof of the mouth.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is most often caused by pollen carried in the air during different times of the year in different parts of the country.

Allergic rhinitis can also be triggered by common indoor allergens such as pet dander, mold, dust mites and cockroach particles. This is called perennial allergic rhinitis, as symptoms typically occur year-round.

In addition to allergen triggers, symptoms may also occur from irritants such as smoke and strong odors, or to changes in the temperature and humidity of the air. This happens because allergic rhinitis causes inflammation in the nasal lining, which increases sensitivity to inhalants.

Many people with allergic rhinitis are prone to allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergy). In addition, allergic rhinitis can make symptoms of asthma worse for people who sufferfrom both conditions.

Allergic rhinitis symptoms include:

  • Itching in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose (congestion)
  • Runny nose
  • Puffy, red, watery eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes

Rhino-sinusitis is an inflammatory process involving one or more of the paranasal sinuses that usually occurs after an allergic reaction or viral upper respiratory infection. There may also be structural causes including nasal polyps and malformations.

These are the general signs and symptoms of Rhino-sinusitis: 

  • Facial pain 
  • Facial pressure 
  • Nasal blockage 
  • Discharge 
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue 
  • Cough 
  • Ear pain/pressure/fullness 

Skin / Rash

Skin rashes can occur from a variety of factors, including infections, heat, allergens, immune system disorders and medications.

Most common skin disorders and rashes are best managed by the allergist/immunologist. The role of the immune system and allergy is central to the cause of most skin conditions. We have the tools necessary to, not just provide symptomatic relief, but get to the underlying cause and find a cure. In addition to skin biopsy and testing for common allergens including foods, mold, plants, insects, and animals; we are the only center in our region to perform comprehensive patch testing to establish allergy to many chemicals and ingredients found in products used in cosmetics, hygiene, healthcare, crafts, construction, and industry.

Common Skin conditions we see include:

Atopic dermatitis: Commonly referred to as eczema, is an ongoing (chronic) condition that causes itchy, inflamed skin. Most often it appears as patches on the face, neck, trunk or limbs. It tends to flare up periodically and then subside for a time.

Contact dermatitis: Contact with an irritant or allergen causes this form of dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis (A) usually produces a dry, scaly rash with a burning itch or pain. Exposure to a chemical, such as a cleaning product or industrial chemical causes this condition. The irritant will cause a rash on anyone exposed to it, but some people's skin may be more easily affected, and the severity of a reaction may vary with duration of exposure and the amount of irritant. Allergic contact dermatitis (B) produces a very itchy, red rash with bumps and sometimes blisters. Common allergy-causing agents (allergens) include latex rubber, nickel, costume jewelry, perfume, cosmetics, nail polish and poison ivy. Allergic contact dermatitis affects people who develop immune system sensitivity to the allergen.

Hives: Also known as urticaria, hives affects about 20 percent of people sometime during their lifetime. Hives can start as itching, followed by swollen, red, welts. Scratching, tight clothing, exercise, heat, and emotional stress may worsen the itching. Causes include allergy to foods, insects, and medications or autoimmunity.

Asthma / Breathing

There are an estimated 17 million people living in the United States with self-reported asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease marked by wheezing, chest tightness, cough, and/or shortness of breath. 

Asthma symptoms are caused by the constriction of the muscles surrounding the airways, increased production of mucus by glands in the airways, and the inflammatory swelling of the airways. If left untreated, these abnormalities can become permanent as a result of airway scarring. Airway inflammation may always be there, even when you are seemingly symptom-free.

For best treatment, it is important to recognize, address, and avoid asthma “triggers.” Asthma triggers may include:

  • Allergens such as pet dander, insects, mold or pollen
  • Irritants in the air that you breathe such as tobacco smoke, wood smoke, room deodorizers, fresh paint, perfume
  • Exercise or extreme physical activity
  • Emotional upset
  • Asthma symptoms will increase or worsen at night
  • Respiratory infections
  • Gastric reflux or heartburn

Diagnostic services including allergen skin testing, upper airway endoscopy, methacholine challenge, pulmonary function testing, spirometry, and specialty laboratories are useful in the evaluation and management of asthma and similar disorders.