What is an allergy?

Some allergy problems – such as a mild case of hay fever – may not need any treatment. Sometimes your allergies can be controlled with the occasional use of an over-the-counter medication. However, sometimes allergies can interfere with your day-to-day activities or decrease your quality of life. Allergies can even be life-threatening. Take back control of your life. 

As a board certified trained allergist, our office treats asthma and allergies and other hypersensitivity disorders in pursuit of maximizing airway wellness.

An allergist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other allergic diseases. The allergist is specially trained to identify allergy and asthma triggers. Allergists help people treat or prevent their allergy problems. After earning a medical degree, the allergist completes a three-year residency-training program in either internal medicine or pediatrics. Next the allergist completes two or three more years of study in the field of allergy and immunology. You can be certain that your doctor has met these requirements if he or she is certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

What is an allergy?

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, molds or pollen are mistakenly identified as dangerous. The immune system then rallies its defenses, which include several chemicals to attack and destroy the supposed enemy. In the process, some unpleasant and, in extreme cases, life-threatening symptoms may be experienced in the allergy-prone individual.

The cause 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), cockroaches, pets, industrial chemicals, foods, medicines, feathers and insect stings. These triggers are called "allergens."

Who develops asthma or allergies?

Asthma and allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic factors. While it's true that asthma and allergies are more common in children, they can occur for the first time at any age. Sometimes allergy symptoms start in childhood, disappear for many years and then start up again during adult life.

Although the exact genetic factors are not yet understood, there is a hereditary tendency to asthma and allergies. In susceptible people, factors such as hormones, stress, smoke, perfume or other environmental irritants also may play a role.

One interesting point is that if one parent has allergies, there is 30-40% chance a child will develop allergies. If both have some sort of allergies then the child will have a 60-80% chance of developing allergies: the mother may be positive to cats with hives; the father may be allergic to corn with eczema (atopic dermatitis) and the child has asthma to pollen.  One does not have to develop the specific sensitivities as the parents nor the specific atopic disorder.