• Adult-Onset Food Allergies: What to Know and How to Cope

    Allergy doctors most commonly diagnose peanut allergies and other food allergies in children. However, a food allergy can develop at any age—even after eating the food for years without problems. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for food allergies, but it is manageable with strict avoidance of the allergen and treatments prescribed by the allergist.

    Signs of Food Allergies

    An allergic reaction to a food may be relatively mild, such as the appearance of hives, or it may be severe enough to be life-threatening. Even if you’ve previously experienced only mild allergic reactions, you could still potentially suffer from life-threatening symptoms. Some of the indications of a food allergy can include:

    • Tight throat
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Vomiting and stomach cramps
    • Dizziness or feeling faint
    • Swollen tongue
    • Weak pulse
    • Repetitive cough
    • Shortness of breath

    Risks of Food Allergies

    Children who grow up with food allergies learn how to cope with them at an early age. But for newly diagnosed adults, the learning curve can be steep, and making a mistake can lead to serious consequences. While eating out at restaurants or at friends’ homes, for example, it’s more difficult to know if allergens are present in the food. Another risk of food allergies is the potential for cross-reactivity. This occurs when a person experiences a reaction to a food that is similar to the food allergen. For example, patients who are allergic to shrimp may also experience reactions to crab.

    Strategies for Coping with Food Allergies

    Learning how to manage food allergies as an adult can be tricky, but you can cope more easily if you partner with a board-certified allergy doctor. Allergists specialize in the management of food allergies and related conditions. Your doctor will design a personalized treatment plan for you, which will include an epinephrine autoinjector. You’ll need to keep the autoinjector with you at all times, just in case you experience a life-threatening reaction. The doctor will also help you learn how to avoid exposure to your allergen by reading food labels, preventing cross-contamination, and communicating carefully with restaurant staff.

    Patients of all ages can find the specialized medical care they need at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. Our board-certified allergists are available to assist patients in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. New and current patients can reach us at 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • What Are Dry Powder Inhalers?

    Your asthma treatment plan might include the use of a dry powder inhaler. The other type of inhaler, a metered dose inhaler, works by propelling medication into the lungs. Dry powder inhalers are different. They rely on the patient taking a deep, fast breath in order to inhale the medication into the lungs. Your asthma specialist will help you learn how to use the device.

    The specific instructions vary between brands. In general, however, you’ll need to adjust the device to load a dose of the medication. Then, turn your head to the side and exhale as much air out of your lungs as you can. Insert the mouthpiece into your mouth and take a very deep, strong, and steady breath to completely fill your lungs. Hold your breath for no longer than 10 seconds. Then, remove the mouthpiece and exhale steadily and slowly. If the delivered medication is a corticosteroid, your asthma doctor may instruct you to gargle with water after taking a dose. Spit out the water—do not swallow it.

    If you have any questions about your asthma treatment, you can call 1(800)86-COUGH to reach your doctor at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Our asthma doctors are available in Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

  • What Is a Primary Immunodeficiency Disease?

    A primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD) is a genetic problem that causes part of the immune system to malfunction. Alternatively, part of the immune system may be absent. Primary immunodeficiency diseases can range from mild to severe. Allergists typically diagnose severe PIDDs when the patient is quite young, but mild PIDDs may not be diagnosed until later in life as the health effects become more apparent.

    Types of PIDDs

    PIDDs can occur when there is a mutation in the genetic code. There are more than 300 types of PIDDs. Allergy specialists have categorized them into six main groups.

    • B cell (antibody) deficiencies
    • T cell deficiencies
    • B and T cell combination deficiencies
    • Complement deficiencies
    • Defective phagocytes
    • Idiopathic (unknown PIDD)

    B and T cells, also called lymphocytes, are adaptive immune cells that fight off invading organisms in the body. Phagocytes are another specialized cell of the immune system. It engulfs and absorbs small cells like bacteria.

    Signs of PIDDs

    The defining characteristic of primary immunodeficiency diseases is having a higher susceptibility to infections. People with PIDDs may get infections more frequently, have a harder time fighting them off, and suffer from them for a longer period of time. Some people with PIDDs experience the following health issues:

    • Eight or more new ear infections within one year.
    • Two or more serious sinus infections within one year
    • Two or more months of antibiotics resulting in marginal improvement
    • Two or more bouts of pneumonia within one year
    • Recurrent, deep skin or organ abscesses
    • Failure of an infant to gain weight or grow normally
    • Persistent thrush in mouth or elsewhere on skin after age one

    Additionally, patients with PIDDs are more susceptible to these infections:

    • Pneumonia
    • Bronchitis
    • Sinus infections
    • Skin infections
    • Meningitis
    • Ear infections

    Treatments for PIDDs

    Each treatment plan for a PIDD is personalized to meet the needs of the individual patient. The main goals for treatment include:

    • Improving the function of the immune system
    • Preventing and treating infections
    • Treating the underlying cause, if any

    An allergist might recommend these therapies for PIDDs:

    • Immunoglobulin therapy: The introduction of antibody proteins through IV or subcutaneous infusion.
    • Interferon-gamma therapy: An injected therapy that stimulates the immune system. Appropriate for patients with chronic granulomatous disease.
    • Growth factors: A treatment that increases the amount of white blood cells.

    If you or your child has been diagnosed with a primary immunodeficiency disease, you can find the supportive care you need at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. Our allergists are available in multiple locations in Pennsylvania, including Blue Bell, Center City, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania. New and current patients can reach our office at 1(800)86-COUGH.

  • 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.

  • What Should You Avoid When You Have a Nut Allergy?

    When patients are diagnosed with peanut allergies, they are often told to avoid all tree nuts, which includes almonds, cashews, filberts, and others. However, these restrictions may not be completely necessary.

    As this video explains, skin testing is not the definitive measure for testing for tree nut allergies. Many tree nut allergies will produce false positives in a skin test, so a food challenge under the care of an experienced allergist is the best way to know which nuts you really cannot eat and which you are not allergic to.

    Food allergy testing should always take place under the care of a board-certified allergist and immunologist. You’ll find the care you need for food allergy testing in Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. For more about our clinics or to make an appointment, call us today at 1-800-86COUGH.

  • Back 2 School: Preparing for Allergies During the Academic Year [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Summer’s over, and the kids are heading back to school! You’ve picked up their school supplies, picked out their new clothes, and scheduled their extracurricular activities, but are you forgetting something? What’s the plan for all the allergies? While your children may have been healthy and happy all summer, school is a whole different ballgame. From the classroom to the playground to the cafeteria, school can be a virtual minefield of allergens and contaminants that make life difficult for kids with allergies or asthma. Aside from homeschooling, what can you do? First, make sure you’ve got the right allergy doctor to help manage and treat your child’s allergies and asthma. Next, determine the best ways to protect your kids at school, making sure they and their teachers know what to expect and how to manage any problems that arise. To help you make a plan, we’ve created this infographic, with helpful tips on getting ready for back to school allergies.

  • Examining Different Types of Asthma

    Asthma is a single condition that is characterized by chronic inflammation of the airway that causes difficulty breathing, wheezing, and chest tightness. When discussing the different types of asthma, this refers to the various triggers that may cause asthma flare-ups when these symptoms occur. Here is a look at the most common types of asthma, which should all be managed and treated under the care of a board-certified asthma and allergy doctor.

    Allergy-Induced Asthma

    Allergies and asthma go hand in hand, and many asthma sufferers will have a number of known allergies, often including cockroach and dust mite allergies, pet dander allergies, seasonal pollen allergies, and mold allergies. When an allergic reaction occurs from these or other allergenic substances, people with allergy-induced asthma will experience a reaction in the airway with severe inflammation that causes difficulty breathing.

    Exercise-Induced Asthma

    Most asthma sufferers will experience a flare-up of symptoms during exercise, because the extra stress on the lungs and respiratory system can trigger inflammation. Generally, exercise-induced asthma will kick in 5-10 minutes after exercise begins and may return in a second wave of symptoms up to 24 hours later. However, with the right medication and exercise routine, you can work through exercise-induced symptoms so that you are able to maintain an active lifestyle and improve your overall health.

    Occupational Asthma

    It’s not just allergenic substances that can trigger asthma symptoms. Many different chemical substances can cause asthmatic symptoms, such as paints, cleaning products, dust, mold, and latex gloves—all common workplace hazards. If you tend to have symptoms that worsen at work, it could be due to these occupational exposures.

    Living a normal life with asthma is possible, but it does take a managed treatment plan with an allergy doctor. You can find the care you need in Blue Bell, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Pottstown, King of Prussia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania with the offices of Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM. You can reach us for an appointment at 1(800)86-COUGH.