Allergies are an immune system’s extreme reaction to foreign substances. Reactions may be triggered by allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, mold, or other irritants. Foods, medications, detergents, and personal care products can also cause allergic reactions. When an allergen is detected, the immune system overreacts, triggering a cascade of events that can include sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, and skin reactions like hives or rashes. Some allergic reactions, including allergies to peanuts, shellfish, and bee and wasp venom, can be very severe, resulting in breathing problems, coma, seizures, and even death.
While some allergies can be diagnosed with a review of the child’s medical history and activities as well as their symptoms, allergy testing is very effective in determining the cause of symptoms that aren’t as readily diagnosed. Allergy testing uses a scratch test, sometimes called an allergy skin-prick test, to identify the cause of allergic reactions. In this test, a series of tiny scratches or pin-pricks are made in the skin, and a small amount of each allergen is applied. Then the area is covered with a waterproof bandage for a specified period of time before being evaluated for signs of allergic reactions. Dr. Rosenberg performs in-house allergy testing using state-of-the-art methods designed to identify specific allergens.
Obviously, one of the best ways to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid triggers, and allergy testing can help identify what those triggers are. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid the allergens that can cause allergic reactions. Depending on the type of allergen and the way the reaction occurs, medications may be prescribed to reduce the allergic reaction systemically or topically, using antihistamines and other medications, like steroids, when necessary for more severe reactions. For kids who have severe allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock, Dr. Rosenberg may prescribe an auto-injector pen to automatically administer a medication designed to “short-circuit” the reaction so serious and even life-threatening side effects can be prevented.
Immunotherapy (sometimes called “allergy shots”) uses a series of injections of very diluted allergens to help the body develop immunity or tolerance to the allergens. Shots are given over a prolonged period of time to help reduce or in some cases even eliminate allergic reactions.
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