Immune deficiencies result from your immune system not functioning properly, causing chronic infections that can be severe and long lasting. Your body’s immune system can’t defend your body against viruses, bacteria, or a fungal infection, putting your body at risk of dangerous medical conditions and diseases.
Immune system deficiencies can happen due to having a debilitating medical condition like cancer, or they can have a genetic cause. They can also be caused by prolonged use of an immunosuppressive medication.
There are two types of immune deficiency disorders which include:
- Primary; those that are present at birth and are hereditary. There are over 100 primary immunodeficiency disorders. Primary immune deficiencies are caused by genetic mutations and are categorized under which part of the immune system is involved.
- Secondary; those that develop later as a result of a medical condition like diabetes, cancer, or HIV. They can also develop from the use of immunosuppressive medications, or from radiation therapy. Secondary immune deficiencies are much more common that primary deficiencies.
Immune deficiencies are more common in older people because the immune system is weakened and less effective. Poor nutrition in seniors is also a contributing factor which can impair the immune system. Weight loss combined with age causes the immune system to not function as well, especially if the weight lost results in a person weighing 70 to 80 percent of their normal weight. Frequent hospitalizations of seniors can also result in immune deficiencies.
People who have immune deficiencies often suffer severe respiratory infections which tend to linger. Bacterial infections can lead to more serious medical conditions like pneumonia. Eye, mouth, and digestive tract infections also occur frequently in people with immune deficiencies.
Diagnosis of an immune deficiency is by testing the blood, to determine the type of immune deficiency. Depending on the type of immune deficiency, treatment can include:
- Antibiotics to help prevent and treat any underlying infection
- Immune globulin to help increase antibody production and improve antibody function
- Stem cell transplantation for severe immune deficiency cases
Immune deficiencies can dramatically affect your ability to stay healthy, so it’s important to seek out treatment if you suspect you have immune system problems. To find out more about immune deficiencies, talk with your asthma and allergy specialist today!
Asthma is one of the most common chronic respiratory conditions to affect Americans. If you or your child is having trouble breathing then it’s time to turn to an allergist who can diagnose asthma, determine its cause, and then create a long-term treatment plan.
The Types of Asthma
There are four main types of asthma:
- Allergic asthma
- Adult-onset asthma
- Asthma and COPD
- Exercise-induced asthma
- Nonallergic asthma
- Occupational asthma
Just as the name suggests, this type of asthma is triggered by allergens in the air such as pollen, dust, and pet dander. While not everyone with allergies has asthma and vice versa, it is possible for allergens to cause an asthma attack.
Sometimes asthma doesn’t actually appear until adulthood. Some people may not even realize they have it until they eventually come in contact with something that triggers their symptoms. Sometimes a simple viral infection can trigger symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing.
Asthma and COPD
Asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) is when you have both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), both of which cause problems breathing. It is possible for ACOS to be dangerous, so it’s important to see an allergy specialist if you are experiencing symptoms of COPD or asthma. Smokers are at an increased risk for developing ACOS.
Do you notice that you wheeze, cough, or experience chest tightness when you exercise? If so, you aren’t alone. A lot of athletes (even elite athletes) have exercise-induced asthma. With this form of asthma you may notice symptoms flare-up at the beginning of your workout and last for up to 15 minutes.
If your asthma symptoms are not the result of allergies they could be due to medications, stress, sickness, or weather changes. This is known as nonallergic asthma.
If you experience asthma attacks occur most often at your job this is known as occupational asthma. This is usually more common in those who work around chemicals, fumes and other irritants.
If you are experiencing any of these common asthma symptoms then it’s time to see a physician:
- Chest tightness
- A persistent cough that may get worse at night
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
Treatment plans usually involve a combination of avoidance techniques and lifestyle changes, as well as fast-acting inhalers and long-term control medications. Allergy shots may also be recommended for those with allergic asthma.
If you are struggling to get your asthma under control then it’s time to talk with an allergist who can work with you to find the right medication and treatments to better manage your symptoms and to help you breathe easier. Put your trust in the hands of an asthma and allergy specialist today.
Millions of Americans are affected by allergies. From children to seniors, our allergist sees patients of all ages who are dealing with everything from food allergies to seasonal allergies. While minor or seasonal allergies can often be addressed through simple lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, if you are dealing with severe allergies then you’ll want to turn to an allergist immediately.
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a rare but severe and potential life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. It’s important that if you or someone you know experiences anaphylaxis when coming into contact with a known allergen that you know how to best respond.
Anaphylaxis occurs when the overstimulation of chemicals within the body in response to the allergy causes the body to go into shock. The allergies most often associated with anaphylaxis include:
- Insect stings
What are the signs of anaphylaxis?
Symptoms of anaphylaxis appear suddenly and worsen quickly. It may start out as a minor rash or runny nose but will progress into any of these symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the throat
- Abdominal pain
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
Anaphylaxis will not go away on by itself. It requires urgent medical treatment. Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room if you or a family member experiences symptoms of anaphylaxis.
How is anaphylaxis treated?
During your first evaluation, an allergist will go through your medical history and ask you questions about your allergy symptoms. From there, diagnostic tests will be performed to test which allergies might be triggering your symptoms. Depending on the severity and type of symptoms you experience, your allergist will provide you with medications and everyday habits to adopt that will help you avoid dangerous triggers.
Of course, if you are dealing with anaphylaxis, an allergist will handle your symptoms a bit differently than patients with mild to moderate allergic reactions. An allergist will most often prescribe an epinephrine injector (referred to as an EpiPen). When anaphylaxis occurs, the patient will immediately inject the shot of epinephrine (adrenaline) into their leg to stop the reaction. From there, the patient should head immediately to the hospital for follow-up treatment and care.
Those who experience anaphylaxis should wear some sort of allergy identification on their person, so that if a severe allergic reaction does occur the people around you will be aware of your allergy symptoms and can ensure that you get immediate medical attention.
If you or a loved one is dealing with new or worsening allergy symptoms it’s important that you have an allergy specialist that you can turn to for proper evaluation and treatment. Call an allergist today.
From a runny nose and itchy eyes to a skin rash and stomach cramps, there are many symptoms that could actually be warning signs of an allergy. Those who have mild symptoms may not even realize that they are dealing with an allergy. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system believes a foreign and harmless substance is actually harmful, triggering an allergic reaction. Learn more about the most common types of allergies and their symptoms and when you should turn to an allergist for an evaluation.
There are many different kinds of foods that can cause an allergy, from peanuts and cow’s milk to seafood and wheat. Most people will notice that their symptoms appear not long after eating the offending food. Symptoms include:
- A tingling mouth
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea
From cockroaches and mosquitoes to fleas and bees, there are many stinging and biting insects that can cause an allergic reaction. Some people experience a serious allergic reaction to insect bites and stings (anaphylaxis). Other symptoms may include:
- Skin rashes
- Swelling of the throat, lips, and tongue
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Wheezing and trouble breathing
Latex is a material found in a variety of everyday objects, from rubber bands and balloons to condoms. If a person with a latex allergy comes in contact with latex they may experience symptoms of contact dermatitis (red, itchy skin). Other symptoms include:
- Inflammation of the eyes
- Swelling of the skin
- Runny nose
- Trouble breathing
If you notice that you have allergy symptoms year-round rather than seasonally then you may be dealing with an allergy to mold and fungus (these spores can be found in the air). Symptoms of a mold allergy include:
- Runny, itchy nose
- Dry skin
It’s common for people to have an allergy to the dander in animal fur. Both cats and dogs can cause allergies in people; however, cat allergies are twice as common. Symptoms include:
- Inflamed eyes
- Swelling or itching of the skin, eyes or nose
- Shortness of breath
- Asthma attack
If you are dealing with seasonal allergies, pollen (also known as hay fever) could very well be to blame. In fact, it’s one of the most common seasonal allergy triggers. Symptoms of a pollen allergy include:
- Red, watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Increased mucus production
- Runny nose
A true drug allergy isn’t as common as other allergies. Sometimes side effects of a medication can be confused for a drug allergy. If you think you may be allergic to a medication talk with your doctor. Signs of a drug allergy include,
- Skin rash
- Anaphylaxis (a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction)
When should I see an allergist?
If you are dealing with persistent congestion, cough, runny nose, or stomach pains after eating then an allergist will be able to evaluate, diagnose, and treat your allergy symptoms.
During your visit our allergist will perform specific diagnostic testing (skin prick test or blood test) to determine the type of allergy you are experiencing. From there, we can create an effective treatment plan that will include avoidance techniques to reduce exposure to allergens, as well as medications to manage your allergies or asthma symptoms. Severe allergies that do not respond to lifestyle changes and prescription medications may require immunotherapy (allergy shots).
If you are experiencing persistent allergy symptoms it’s important that you find out whether it’s an allergy or something else. Turn to an allergist to provide you with the comprehensive diagnostic tests you need to find out what’s causing your symptoms and then we can get to work treating them. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.
Allergies don’t have to dictate what you can and can’t do. Get them under control now!
From visiting a friend’s house that is overrun with pets to just trying to enjoy the beautiful outdoors on a pollen-heavy day, there are so many reasons why your allergy symptoms might be acting up. Your allergist, can tell you some of the most common allergy symptoms and what you can do to make life with allergies a bit easier on yourself.
Pinpoint Your Triggers
The next time your allergies flare up, make note of what’s around you or what activities you were doing (e.g. vacuuming; gardening). Write down any patterns you notice and discuss them with your allergist to figure out what could be to blame for your allergies. Knowing what triggers your symptoms will help you avoid them altogether.
Make Changes to Your Home
It’s always a great idea to chat with your doctor about how to reduce your allergy symptoms from the comfort of your own home. After all, your home should be a comfortable abode not an allergy-riddled lair. If Fido has you sneezing, make sure he gets weekly baths and designate certain rooms as being pet-free (particularly bedrooms). Choose a HEPA-filter air conditioner that will filter out pollen and other outdoor allergens. Keep windows closed, particularly on windy days and make sure to keep all surfaces and furniture dusted and clean.
Consider Your Treatment Options
While you can certainly make a lot of lifestyle changes to improve your allergy symptoms, in most cases you may also require medication to help keep your allergies under control. You may find the proper relief through over-the-counter nasal sprays and other medications, while those with more moderate or serious allergy symptoms will want to turn to their allergist to find out what prescription medication could control your allergies (or whether allergy shots are the best option).
Whether you have questions about managing your allergy symptoms or you want to find out what medication is right for you, give your allergist a call today if your allergies are becoming difficult to tackle on your own. Finding the right allergy relief is just a phone call away.
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