Allergy Partners Discusses The Reasons Why to See An Allergist/Immunologist

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Allergists act as detectives to listen to patients and ask questions to elicit the clues needed to order the right tests to find the allergic cause if one exists, and then to plan the most efficient treatment.

Allergy Partners

Allergy Partners Physicians

Allergist/Immunologists are specially trained physicians who help with many varied and intriguing health problems. Allergists act as detectives to listen to patients and ask questions to elicit the clues needed to order the right tests to find the allergic cause if one exists, and then to plan the most efficient treatment. Patients will seek allergy doctors out themselves or be referred by their own doctors for help in trying to figure out the causes for many problems and to try to prevent recurrences.

Allergic reactions are an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to “allergens” that non-allergic individuals cope with comfortably. These allergens can be pollens, molds, dust mites, foods, bee venoms, or medications.

Allergist/Immunologist most often deals with conditions affecting the places where the environment and the body come into contact. This involves the surfaces of a person’s body – the skin, the linings of the eyes, nose, sinuses, oral cavity and throat, GI tract, and lungs. These exposures to “allergens” lead to the irritation, known as inflammation, of these linings producing itching, burning, swelling, redness, and/or pain; and complaints that are specific to the organ or tissue involved – eye tearing, nasal congestion and drip, headache, sinus pressure, recurrent coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, mucous production, hives and GI upset.

Most people think of allergy specialists for the evaluation and treatment of conditions brought on by seasonal changes, like those due to the pollens released into the air leading to Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis and Conjunctivitis or “Hayfever.” They are problematic at different times of the year depending on the part of the country where you live. In the Northeast, there's been an abrupt onset of tree pollens released in early and mid-spring, grasses by the mid to late spring that taper into the summer, and finally weed pollens in the late summer to fall season.    

Many problems are chronic in nature and occur year-round. Environmental exposures in the home, workplace or even school, such as dust, mold and animal dander can lead to persistent or recurrent nasal, chest or skin symptoms due to Perennial Allergic Rhinitis, Asthma, Sinus Headache and Pressure, and Skin Rashes.

Allergists are deeply involved with all the facets of treating Asthma. We look for the clues to understand the triggers for the “acute attacks” or ongoing coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath that can lead to hospital visits.

Allergy doctors help patients with immediate allergic reactions leading to potentially serious outcomes such as life-threatening Anaphylaxis, Food Allergy, Drug Allergy, and Bee Sting Allergy.

Immunology is at the heart of all disease. As Immunologists we try to understand the body’s immune system and specifically why someone gets recurrent, persistent or unusual infections.

Allergy doctors look for Primary Immune Deficiency diseases. These are generally rare disorders brought on by a defect in the immune system.

Not only do Allergist/Immunologists prescribe medications, but we may be able to effectively “desensitize” a person to the allergens that cause their symptoms. This differentiates what we can do from other physicians. Desensitization involves slowly introducing small amounts of the allergen into the body to slowly change or suppress the over-reactive, allergic state into a tolerant one. This classically involves allergy injections, but newer methods include sublingual or ingestion approaches. Additionally new understandings of the immune system have led to the new class of “Biologics”- treatments that can selectively interfere with the inflammatory immune response in order to prevent symptoms, while keeping the immune system’s essential functions intact. The successes these approaches bring about are some of the most rewarding aspects of what we can do.

The Allergist/ Asthma doctor has in-depth understanding of the allergic and immune responses that explain the “how and why” we get sick and offer different treatment options.

Allergy Partners is a national organization of Allergist/Immunologists, but importantly we are part of a world-wide community of researchers and clinicians devoted to the understanding and treatment of allergic and primary immune disorders.

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Gary Gross, MD
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