• FAQs About Stinging Insect Allergies

    Stinging insects are scary enough without the threat of a severe allergic reaction from their painful stings. While many people will only have slight irritation and swelling after getting stung by a bee or wasp, others can experience a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening without emergency care. Allergy doctors often get questions about stinging insect allergies, so we’ve got a few answers here to help you prepare for your next visit to an allergy specialist.

    What types of insect stings can cause allergic reactions?

    Honeybees, yellow jackets, paper wasps, hornets, and fire ants all have venomous stings that can cause allergic reactions. If you have had an exaggerated reaction to one of these insect stings before, it’s helpful to accurately identify the insect that stung you, so you can tell your allergy doctor. Often, if you’ve had a bad reaction to an insect sting, you are likely to have a more severe allergic reaction if you’re stung again.

    How do I know if I have a stinging insect allergy?

    Unfortunately, there is no way to know your risk of a stinging insect allergy unless you have been stung by an insect and had allergic symptoms. If you do get stung and experience itching over a large area of the body, swelling of the tongue or throat, coughing or wheezing, dizziness, stomach cramps, or low blood pressure, call 911 right away and schedule an appointment with an allergist after you get emergency care. Localized swelling and redness at the site of the sting is not an allergic reaction.

     What can I do about insect allergies?

    Once you learn that you do have a stinging insect allergy, you should talk to your allergy doctor about carrying an epi-pen with you at all times. You can also take measures to avoid contact with insects, such as not walking around barefoot outside, keeping your landscaping trimmed, and using insect repellant. There is also a treatment called venom immunotherapy, which can dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing an extreme reaction.

    If you do have insect allergies, you should not hesitate to talk to an allergist and immunologist about your treatment options before another extreme reaction occurs. For allergy care in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania, you can count on Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Call us at 1(800)86-COUGH to learn more about what we do.

  • What Happens to the Body During Anaphylaxis?

    When your body recognizes a substance as an allergen, there is usually a localized reaction, such as sneezing and a runny nose, or hives in one area of the body. If you have a serious allergic reaction, you may experience anaphylaxis, which is a form of shock that happens throughout the whole body. This video offers an explanation of anaphylaxis along with the steps you should take when you identify the symptoms. If anaphylaxis is not treated immediately, it is life-threatening.

    If you suffer from allergies and worry about a severe allergic reaction, schedule an appointment with Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM to discuss your allergy treatment options and emergency strategies. We provide care with offices in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania and you can reach us at 1(800)86-COUGH for an appointment.

  • Avoiding Dust Allergy Triggers While Cleaning

    Dust contains the droppings from dust mites, tiny (microscopic) eight-legged creatures that are closely related to ticks and spiders. They grow best in warm, humid areas and live predominantly on a diet of human flakes of skin. It is these droppings that trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.

    Symptoms of dust mite allergy tend to be most prominent in the spring, fall and winter. Dust mites thrive in fabrics such as mattresses, pillows, bedding, carpet, upholstered furniture and stuffed animals. To reduce the amount of dust in your home—and make cleaning a less triggering activity—make it a goal to keep clutter off your floors, wipe down counter and furniture surfaces daily, vacuum your carpets weekly, and change blankets, throw rugs, and bed linen as frequently as possible.

    If you have allergies, it’s important for you to find effective ways to avoid triggers while you’re cleaning your home. Avoid using commercial cleaners that use harsh chemicals such as ammonia or formaldehyde. Instead, opt for non-toxic cleaners such as mixtures that use baking soda and vinegar.

    Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM provides state-of-the-art allergy testing and treatment for the entire family. Our goal is to help you find relief from your symptoms so you can get back to enjoying your life again. To set up a consultation, call 1(800)86-COUGH. We have conveniently located offices in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

  • Is Your Asthma Under Control?

    How can you tell if your asthma is uncontrolled? As an experienced allergist explains in this video from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, you can determine whether you need to see an allergist about your asthma by using the “rule of two.” If you’re needing to use your rescue inhaler more than twice a week—and not when you’re exercising or otherwise physically exerting yourself—or if you find yourself waking up in the night as a result of your asthma, it’s time to contact an allergist.

    Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM works to provide all of our patients with the capable care and effective asthma treatment they deserve. If you’d like to learn more about our services, call 1(800)86-COUGH to reach one of our locations near Collegeville, Pottstown, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, and Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

  • Got Egg Allergies? Read This Kitchen Survival Guide

    Any type of food allergy can make mealtime more difficult because you must be diligent about reading ingredient labels before digging into prepared dishes and packaged foods. Egg allergies can present an even greater challenge, because eggs are such versatile ingredients that they end up in countless recipes, from breakfast staples to baked goods. If you do have an egg allergy, it is possible to eat well and still enjoy many of the recipes that commonly feature eggs, as long as you know some helpful substitutions to employ.

    Where Eggs Are Typically Found

    When eggs are fried or scrambled, it’s obvious that they’re on the plate, so they are easy to avoid. However, the biggest challenge for egg allergy sufferers comes from foods where eggs are among many other ingredients. Most baked goods fall into this category, including many types of breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, bagels, and pastries. Eggs are also commonly used as a binding ingredient, so they may also be found in fillings for pasta dishes or foods like meatloaf.

    What You Can Use as a Substitute for Eggs

    One of the easiest ways to avoid eggs is by selecting vegan options, especially when you are dining out and have limited access to ingredients lists. However, you can get more creative and substitute eggs in your own cooking so that you don’t have to omit more ingredients than necessary. Here is a look at some great egg substitutes and their best uses.

    • Applesauce, pumpkin puree, or mashed banana: Use ¼ cup for each egg in any recipe for baked goods, and reduce sugar in recipe to taste.
    • Commercial egg replacer: Use according to package instructions. This is available in the baking aisle at most grocery stores, and is excellent for limiting any added flavor.
    • Silken tofu: Use ¼ cup pureed tofu per egg. Expect a denser finished product. This is best for breads, brownies, and cookies.
    • Carbonated water: Use ¼ cup per egg where added leavening is desired, such as in cakes and quick breads.
    • Aquafaba: Use 3 tablespoons of this substitute—which is the liquid left over from cooking chickpeas or the fluid found in cans of chickpeas—to replace one egg. This can be whipped into stiff peaks where egg whites would normally be used.

    Living with a food allergy does take some extra work and knowhow in the kitchen, but it is easier with the help of allergy doctors serving Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. For allergy care in these areas, schedule an appointment with Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM by calling 1(800)86-COUGH. Our specialists can provide food allergy testing as well as immunotherapy and other treatments to help you manage your symptoms.

  • Understanding Anaphylaxis

    When you have allergies, you probably experience limited allergic reactions only affecting certain parts of the body. For example, rhinitis will only cause symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose. As this video explains, anaphylaxis is a different kind of allergic reaction because it affects the entire body. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that occurs very quickly and can be life-threatening, so it is imperative to recognize the reaction occurring and seek emergency care immediately.

    The board-certified doctors at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM can help you recognize your risk for anaphylaxis due to food allergies, insect allergies, or other triggers. If you are looking for allergy care in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania, call our offices at 1(800)86-COUGH and schedule a consultation.

  • Undergoing the FeNO Test

    If you suffer from allergic or eosinophilic asthma, you may use a steroidal inhaler to suppress inflammation and improve breathing. When you take this medication, you may feel that your breathing has improved, but there may still be higher concentrations of nitric oxide—an indicator of inflammation in the airway—when you exhale. For this reason, your allergist may recommend a FeNO test to establish a baseline and then to measure the effectiveness of your medication.

    A FeNO test is a simple test, during which you will breathe into a special instrument to measure the concentration of nitric oxide in your lungs. Unlike other lung function tests, this test requires you to blow out slowly in a long, steady stream rather than breathing hard and fast. If your nitric oxide levels are still too high after you take your medication, your allergist may recommend increasing the dose of your daily inhaler.

    Allergy & Asthma Specialists is one of the few medical practices in the region that performs the FeNO test in the office as a standard protocol for all new patients.

    At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM , you can expect a full range of care for allergies and asthma, including specialized testing to measure lung function and better manage your symptoms. For more information about our services in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania, call us at 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • Do You Suffer From Eye Allergies? Here’s How to Find Relief

    Eye allergy symptoms are one of the top three allergy complaints in the country. In fact, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology states that 40 percent of adults suffer from eye allergies, many of whom remain undiagnosed. Self-diagnosis and treatment with over-the-counter remedies are often not enough to alleviate eye allergy symptoms long-term. Here’s what we recommend if you’re seeking relief from eye allergies.

    Diagnose the Problem

    The first step is to pinpoint the cause of your allergies. Only then can you avoid your triggers and help prevent symptoms from occurring. The most common types of eye allergies include:

    • Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC): This is by far the most likely reason for your eye allergies. Exposure to pollen causes itchy, red, burning, watery eyes to occur in the spring, summer or fall.
    • Perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC): The symptoms are the same as seasonal allergies, but they occur year-round in response to dust mites, mold, pet dander and other household allergens.
    • Keratoconjunctivitis: Vernal and atopic keratoconjunctivitis are more serious eye allergies that may cause thick mucus production. If left untreated, these conditions can cause scarring and vision impairment.
    • Contact allergic conjunctivitis: Wearing contact lenses may cause an allergic reaction if you have this condition or its more severe form, giant papillary conjunctivitis.

    Avoid Eye Allergy Triggers

    People with dry eye syndrome can sometimes be misdiagnosed with eye allergies. However, some allergy treatments can make dry eyes worse, so if you struggle with itchy, gritty, watery eyes, it’s important to visit an allergist for a thorough evaluation. With a diagnosis from your allergist, you can feel confident about what triggers to stay away from.

    • Avoid outdoor allergens :
      • Remain indoors when pollen counts are high.
      • Keep the windows in your house and car closed.
      • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
    • Avoid indoor allergens:
      • Use an airtight mattress cover and hypoallergenic pillowcases to reduce dust mite exposure.
      • Run a dehumidifier, clean shower tiles regularly, and use exhaust fans when showering and cooking to reduce mold growth.
      • Replace wall-to-wall carpet with hard flooring to reduce dust in your home.
    • Avoid pet allergens:
      • Consider banning pets from your home.
      • Keep pets out of your bedroom.
      • Wash your hands immediately after petting any animals.

    Treat Eye Allergies

    When avoidance techniques aren’t enough, relieve your eye allergies with these treatment options:

    • Over-the-counter medication: For short-term relief, try tear substitutes, decongestants or oral antihistamines.
    • Prescription medication: When OTC treatments aren’t potent enough, seek a prescription for stronger eye drops or oral antihistamines.
    • Immunotherapy: Allergy & Asthma Specialists offers three kinds of immunotherapy. Allergy shots, drops or tablets help your body build a tolerance to the allergens that trigger your symptoms. After a few months of treatment, your quality of life may improve significantly.

    To learn more about finding relief from eye allergies, please contact Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM . We have eight convenient locations, in Philadelphia, Collegeville, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, Blue Bell, King of Prussia and Jenkintown, where you can schedule an appointment.

  • What You Should Know About Traveling and Allergies

    Summer is the most popular time of year to travel. If you have a vacation booked, you might be excited about everything you have planned at your destination. But take a moment to consider what allergy symptoms you might experience on your travels. You can’t eliminate all allergens during your upcoming summer vacation, but there are options for reducing your exposure and building immunity to keep your symptoms at bay.

    Summer Vacation Allergies

    In some instances, going on vacation improves allergy symptoms. This is most likely the case if you’re allergic to grass or weed pollen, and your travels take you out of your pollen exposure. Allergies can also decrease while traveling if you’re allergic to a dog or cat at home.

    However, summer vacation may also exacerbate your allergies. You might leave one environment where spring pollination is over, only to vacation in a place where pollen season is still in full swing. You’re also likely to spend more time outside during your travels, which can lead to increased allergen exposure.

    The hotel, lake home, shore house or other lodging you stay at also matters. Vacation accommodations are often breeding grounds for mold, and levels are highest during the hot, humid summer.

    Reduce Your Exposure to Summer Vacation Allergies

    The trick to avoiding the allergens that trigger your unpleasant symptoms is to have allergy skin testing performed. Then, you can take sidestep your specific triggers on vacation. Here’s how:

    • Time your travels to avoid pollen season. For instance, if you travel from your home in Philadelphia to the South in late spring or early summer, you miss the tail end of spring pollination.
    • Reduce your time outside when pollen counts are high. Check the local pollen forecast each morning. If the type of pollen you’re allergic to is high that day, opt for indoor museums and tours. Save outdoor ventures for days with lower pollen counts.
    • Be picky about where you stay. Mold can grow anywhere with sufficient moisture and warmth, making shore houses and hotel rooms near the pool especially problematic. Pay attention when you walk through the door. If it smells musty, don’t stay there.
    • Bring your own hypoallergenic bedding. Mattresses and pillows are havens for dust mites, mold and other allergens. Bring your own airtight mattress cover and hypoallergenic pillowcases to reduce your exposure.

    Build Immunity to Allergens Before You Travel

    In addition to discovering what you’re allergic to with skin testing, you can also undergo immunotherapy to help your body better tolerate exposure to allergens. This treatment can help curb severe symptoms so you can enjoy your travels. Strive to begin immunotherapy three to six months before your vacation to give the treatment time to start working.

    Seeing an allergist before your summer trip could be the best decision you ever make! To learn more about finding relief from your symptoms, please contact Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM . We have locations in Philadelphia, Collegeville, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, Blue Bell, King of Prussia and Jenkintown where you can schedule an appointment.

  • Common Summer Allergies and Treatment Options

    When you think of seasonal allergies, budding tree blossoms in spring and falling leaves in autumn might come to mind. However, sneezing, runny noses, and itchy, watery eyes aren’t exclusive to spring and autumn – summer allergies can hit just as hard. Learn about the most common summer allergies, ways to avoid your triggers and what allergy treatment options are available.

    Common Summer Allergies

    What causes severe sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes and other allergic reactions this time of year? The most likely culprits include:

    • Weeds: Ragweed pollen is a common end of summer allergy that can travel hundreds of miles on the wind to aggravate your symptoms. Other offending weeds include sagebrush, cockleweed, Russian thistle, pigweed and tumbleweed.
    • Grass: The smell of freshly mown grass might not bring you joy if you’re allergic to bluegrass, Bermuda, orchard, red top, Timothy, sweet vernal or other grass varieties.
    • Air pollution: Summer smog is largely comprised of ground-level ozone, a lung irritant that reaches its highest level on hot, sunny days.
    • Mold: Spores floating in the air are more likely to settle and grow during warm, humid weather. Your muggy basement and damp bathroom are typical places for mold to grow. Mold spores are also spread into the air when mowing the grass, weeding the garden, or clipping the shrubs.
    • Insects: Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are just some of the critters that can cause an allergic reaction if you get stung.

    How to Avoid Summer Allergy Triggers

    Make summer more fun by avoiding your allergy triggers. First, find out what you’re sensitive to with allergy skin testing. Then, follow these tips:

    • Stay indoors when weed and grass pollen counts are at their highest (usually in the early morning hours).
    • Don’t hang clothing to dry outside.
    • Keep your windows closed.
    • Ask someone else to mow your grass. If you must do the chore yourself, wear a pollen mask.
    • Stay indoors when the air quality index indicates high outdoor air pollution.
    • Keep indoor mold growth at bay by running a dehumidifier, cleaning shower tiles and grout regularly, and using the exhaust fans when showering and cooking.
    • Prevent bee stings by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and avoiding floral-scented perfumes that could attract insects.

    Treatment Options for Summer Allergies

    Despite your best efforts, it’s impossible to completely avoid every allergen this summer. Fortunately, treatment options are available:

    • Take over-the-counter medicine , including antihistamine, decongestant, eye drops and corticosteroid nasal sprays.
    • Request a stronger prescription medication from your doctor , which may include leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs), ipratropium bromide nasal sprays and corticosteroid nasal sprays.
    • Begin immunotherapy treatment to help your body better tolerate exposure to the allergens that trigger your symptoms. A complete course of treatment could cure your hypersensitivity!

    If you’re dealing with severe summer allergies, it may be time to see an allergist. Visit Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM for help developing a personalized treatment plan that focuses on your specific allergy triggers. We have eight convenient locations in Philadelphia, Collegeville, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, Blue Bell, King of Prussia and Jenkintown where you can schedule your appointment.