What are Allergies?

One of the marvels of the human body is that it can defend itself against harmful invaders such as viruses or bacteria. But sometimes the defenses are too aggressive, and harmless substances such as dust, mold or pollen are mistakenly identified as dangerous. The immune system then rallies its defenses, launching a host of complex chemical weapons to attack and destroy the supposed enemy. In the process, some unpleasant and, in extreme cases, life-threatening symptoms may be experienced by the allergy-prone individual.

What are the Causes of Allergic Reactions?

There are hundreds of ordinary substances that can trigger allergic reactions. Among the most common are plant pollens, molds, household dust (dust mites), animal dander, foods, medicines, feathers, and insect stings. These triggers are called “allergens.” An allergic reaction may occur anywhere in the body, but usually appears in the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs – places where special immune system cells are stationed to fight off invaders that are inhaled, swallowed or come in contact with the skin.

Who Develops Asthma and/or Allergies?

Asthma and allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic factors. While it is true that asthma and allergies develop more commonly in children, they can occur for the first time at any age or, in some cases, recur after many years of remission. Although the exact genetic factors are not yet understood, the tendency to asthma and allergies is linked to heredity. In susceptible people, factors such as hormones, stress, smoke, perfume or other environmental irritants may also play a role.

This information has been provided by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

We Can Help!

Effectively controlling asthma and allergies requires planning, skill and patience. Tests can be done to identify allergens which cause allergies. The allergist, with his or her specialized training and expertise in managing asthma and allergies, can develop a treatment plan for your individual condition. The goal will be to enable you to lead a life that is as normal and symptom-free as possible.

Who is an Allergist?

A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergies is an allergist. All of the allergists in our office are Board Certified allergy specialists of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology who have passed a qualifying examination and are specially trained to identify the factors that trigger asthma or allergies, and help the patient to prevent or treat them.

When should I see an Allergist?

Allergy sufferers may become so accustomed to chronic symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion or wheezing that they do not consider their condition to be unusual. Yet, with the help of an allergist, these symptoms can usually be prevented or controlled and the patient’s quality of life greatly improved.

You should see an Allergist when…

  • Your allergies are causing secondary symptoms such as chronic sinus infections, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing.
  • You experience hay fever or other allergy symptoms several months out of the year.
  • Antihistamines and other over-the-counter medications do not control your allergy symptoms or create unacceptable side effects, such as drowsiness.
  • Your asthma or allergies are interfering with your ability to carry on day-to-day activities.
  • Your asthma or allergies decrease the quality of your life.
  • You are experiencing warning signs of asthma such as:
  1. You occasionally have to struggle to catch your breath.
  2. You often wheeze or a cough, especially at night or after exercise.
  3. You are frequently short of breath or feel tightness in your chest.
  4. You have previously been diagnosed with asthma but, despite treatment, you still have frequent acute asthma attacks.

Pollen Allergies

The pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is a major source of allergies in California. Diagnostic testing can be done to identify the pollens and your allergist can develop a treatment plan to control them.

Stinging Insect Allergies

Most people are not allergic to insect stings and should know the difference between an allergic reaction and a normal reaction.

Simple and rapid testing can be done.
More than 500,000 people enter hospital emergency rooms every year suffering from insect stings. A severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis occurs in 0.5% – 5% of the U.S. population as a result of insect stings. At least 40 deaths per year result from insect sting anaphylaxis.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic Rhinitis, also known as “hay fever” is a term that describes the symptoms produced by nasal irritation or inflammation. Symptoms of rhinitis include runny nose, itching, sneezing and stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion. These symptoms are the nose’s natural response to inflammation and irritation.

Allergies including allergic rhinitis, affect an estimated 40 – 50 million people in the United States. Some allergies may interfere with day-to-day activities or lessen the quality of life.

Your allergist with his or her specialized training and expertise in managing allergies and asthma can develop a treatment plan for your individual condition. The goal will be to enable you to lead a life that is as normal and symptom-free as possible.

Food Allergies

While an estimated 40 – 50 million Americans have allergies, only 1 – 2% of all adults are allergic to foods or food additives. Food allergies are more common in children