• What to Expect at an Asthma Screening

    Your primary care doctor may refer you to an allergist if he or she suspects that you might have asthma. Some of the possible signs of asthma include chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing. The allergist will perform an asthma screening, which will include one or more simple tests. An asthma screening may also be appropriate for previously diagnosed patients. In this case, the screening is done to assess how well the asthma is controlled.

    Medical History

    Like other medical appointments, your asthma screening will begin with a review of your medical history. It’s helpful to bring a list of your prescribed and over-the-counter medications and supplements. You’ll also need to disclose any medical conditions you’ve already been diagnosed with. Then, you’ll be asked about your symptoms. Some of the questions you might be asked include:

    • What are your symptoms?
    • When do you experience symptoms?
    • Does anything seem to trigger your symptoms?
    • Do you have frequent exposure to chemical irritants, airborne particles, or tobacco smoke?
    • Do you have allergies?

    Breathing Tests

    After you answer questions about your health history and symptoms, you’ll take one or more breathing tests. These tests may include:

    • Peak flow: Measures how hard you can exhale.
    • Spirometry: Measures how much air you can exhale and how fast you can exhale. This test evaluates the narrowing of the bronchial tubes.

    You may be asked to take a medication after doing lung function tests. A class of medications called bronchodilators work to open the airway. Then, you may be asked to take the lung function tests again. If your results improve, this could indicate that you have asthma.

    Treatment Planning

    If your screening reveals that you do have asthma, the doctor will begin planning your asthma treatment. You should take the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the condition, your triggers, and your lifestyle. The doctor will make sure you fully understand your treatment recommendations before you leave the appointment.

    You can schedule your asthma screening at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Our team of asthma specialists serves patients in Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. You can get in touch at 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • Spotlight on the Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis

    Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an allergic condition characterized by a collection of symptoms (most affecting the nose) triggered by airborne allergens, such as mold, pollens, or animal dander. Often, allergic rhinitis is seasonal, but it may be present year-round with certain triggers, such as cockroaches and pet dander.

    If you have allergic rhinitis, you are probably all too familiar with flare-ups of symptoms including:

    • Nasal congestion, runny nose, and watery nasal discharge.
    • Dry, irritated throat.
    • Continuously needing to clear the throat.
    • Rubbing the nose upward to decrease itching (allergic salute).
    • Dark circles under the eyes (allergic shiners).

    These symptoms may not only be uncomfortable, but they might get in the way of school or work performance and even account for a considerable number of sick days.

    If you are struggling to manage allergic rhinitis—whether it’s seasonal or perennial—Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM can help you find relief. With board-certified allergists and immunologists on staff in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania, you can count on us to accurately diagnose and treat your allergy symptoms. To schedule a consultation, go to www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call us today at 1-800-86COUGH.

  • What Is Nocturnal Asthma?

    If you suffer from asthma, you know that there are specific conditions where your asthma symptoms are likely to be triggered, such as in a dusty room or following a strenuous workout at the gym. For some asthma patients, one of the most common triggers is sleep. Sleep-triggered asthma is often referred to as nocturnal asthma, since sleep is generally a nighttime activity. Nocturnal asthma can prevent you from getting enough sleep at night and effectively managing your asthma under other conditions.

    Asthma that Becomes Worse at Night

    Though more research is needed to fully confirm the causes of nocturnal asthma, there are a few suspected causes that can trigger wheezing, coughing, and general trouble breathing as you try to sleep.

    • Reclining Position – When you lie down, your airway becomes tighter, so there is increased resistance as you breathe. Additionally, a reclined position in bed can decrease lung volume and cause secretions to pool from draining sinuses or a post-nasal drip. For some asthma patients, sleeping upright or with more support under the upper back can help to relieve nighttime symptoms.
    • Increased Allergen Exposure – Your bed may be a hot spot for allergens, such as dust mites and pet hair, which can be asthma triggers. You might also find that irritation occurs if you sleep with the air conditioning running, because your HVAC system may also harbor lots of allergens, and colder air can cause conditions similar to those that trigger exercise-induced asthma.
    • Hormonal Changes During Sleep – It’s not just the surrounding physical environment that can lead to nocturnal asthma. When you sleep, your body’s hormonal production fluctuates, so you have the lowest levels of epinephrine as well as the highest levels of histamine in the body, raising the risk for an allergic or asthmatic reaction.

    Treatment that Takes Place During the Day

    If you suffer from nocturnal asthma, it’s important to have a long-term asthma medication along with a fast-acting inhaler. Managing your symptoms more effectively during the day could reduce your risks at night.

    For the diagnostic care and personalized treatment planning you need to keep asthma under control, visit Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. You can schedule a consultation in one of our offices by visiting us at www.allergyandasthmawellness.com or calling 1-800-86COUGH.

  • Get the Truth Behind Common Myths About Food Allergies

    Sometimes, the food we eat isn’t always agreeable with our bodies, and adverse reactions occur. Food intolerances, such as the lactose in milk, can be physically uncomfortable but are not allergies. However, a milk allergy can cause a life-threatening reaction.  Allergic reactions to specific foods occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies a food as a harmful substance and triggers an immune response in the body. Unfortunately, food allergies can often go undiagnosed and misunderstood, posing a significant health threat to those who suffer from them. Here we’ll take a look at some common myths about food allergies so that you have the right information to guide your allergy treatment.

    Myth: Food allergies are all in the mind.

    These days, it seems that everyone has some type of dietary restriction, from avoiding gluten to lactose intolerance to not eating meat. While some of these dietary limitations have medical causes, others are brought on by nutrition fads. Food allergies do sometimes get lumped in with diet fads, so people assume that they aren’t a real concern because they are all in the mind. However, the symptoms of food allergies are all too real, and they won’t go away with just a strong will.

    Myth: Artificial foods are responsible for most food allergies.

    Another common misconception about food allergies is that they can be avoided by simply following an all-natural diet free of artificial flavoring agents and food dyes. In reality, most food allergies are caused by proteins in foods, so even whole, natural foods can be problematic. About 90% of food allergies are caused by these common foods:

    • Peanuts
    • Soy
    • Wheat
    • Cow’s milk
    • Eggs
    • Tree nuts
    • Fish
    • Shellfish

    Myth: Food allergies are always severe.

    Like any other type of allergies, food allergies range in severity. The quantity of the allergenic food consumed will affect the reaction, and for some people food allergies will actually go away or worsen over time, so the severity of a reaction is not always predictable.

    Symptoms of Food Allergy can be sudden and severe and commonly include one or more of the following:

    • Hives or swelling
    • Tingling in the mouth
    • Swelling of the tongue and throat
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Abdominal Cramps
    • Vomiting or diarrhea
    • Eczema or Rash
    • Coughing or wheezing
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Dizziness

    Food allergy symptoms typically begin immediately but may be delayed up to 2 hours of ingestion of the offending food.

    Living with food allergies can be scary, especially with so much misinformation out there. The allergists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists are the region’s authority on food allergy testing and challenges. Our offices serve the communities of center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and you can reach us for an appointment online or at 1-800-86COUGH.