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Your Commonly Asked Allergy & Asthma Questions Answered!

By DuPage Medical Group Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Receive expert advice from our Allergy and Asthma physicians with helpful answers to the most commonly asked allergy and asthma questions.

 

My child seems to get a rash whenever he/she eats certain foods. Could this be a food allergy?

In short, yes. 90% of patients with food allergies will have a rash as part of the reaction.  While many rashes in childhood arise from viruses, the repeated occurrence of a rash with a certain food should prompt you to schedule a visit with an allergist.

 

I think I may be allergic to bee stings.  Is there a treatment for this?

Yes.  Allergy shots (Hymenoptera immunotherapy) greatly reduce an allergic person's future risk of anaphylaxis (a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction) if they are stung again.  Studies show that a person who has had a systemic reaction to a stinging insect (bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket) has a 70% chance of another systemic reaction if stung in the future.  A course of immunotherapy can bring that risk down to about 7%.  All patients who have had a systemic reaction to a stinging insect should also always carry injectable epinephrine.

 

I want to know why I am getting sinus infections all the time.

Most people who get recurrent sinus infections get them because of either persistent sinus inflammation leading to infection, poor resistance to infections or physical obstruction leading to poor drainage from the sinuses.  Persistent inflammation leading to infection is the most common cause of recurrent sinus infections and this, in turn, is often related to an underlying allergy.  An allergist/immunologist can help sort through the different causes of recurrent sinus infections, which would lead to better treatment and, in turn, relief.

 

I have had a cough forever, and cannot seem to get over it.

A number of underlying medical problems can lead to persistent cough, including environmental allergies, chronic sinus infection, acid reflux and asthma. Allergists/immunologists have a great deal of expertise in evaluating and treating these and other causes of chronic cough in adults and children.

 

I/my child want/wants better control of my/their asthma.

Asthma is a complex disorder with many different causes. Symptoms can range from an annoying cough to a life-threatening “attack,” which produces wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. The mainstays of asthma management are to avoid triggers and to use medications as directed by your healthcare provider. Because 50 - 90% of asthmatics have underlying allergies, it is helpful to identify allergy triggers and control allergy symptoms. Asthma is also commonly triggered by viral illness and other infections. While we cannot prevent all colds and viruses, we can often reduce the response to these illnesses by using maintenance (or “controller”) asthma medications. Irritants, exercise, stress, sinus problems, various medications and GERD (“heartburn”) can trigger asthma as well.

 

I want to know why I am sneezing and congested all day; I want to feel better.

Nasal congestion and sneezing are symptoms of “rhinitis,” which literally means inflammation of the nose. Generally, the causes of rhinitis are broken down into two broad categories: allergic and nonallergic. The symptoms of allergic rhinitis (i.e. “hayfever”) result from a well-intentioned, but misguided immune response to foreign substances (i.e. pollens, molds, dust mites, pet dander) that are otherwise harmless. As a direct result of the immune response, the nose attempts to flush out the offending substance by producing more mucus and forcefully expelling its contents through sneezing. It is not “normal” to have allergies.

While nonallergic rhinitis produces very similar symptoms, it has a very different cause. Nonallergic rhinitis, to some extent, is a very normal reaction and is triggered in response to irritants that affect the nose. Most individuals’ noses are sensitive to at least some irritants, including strong scents, cigarette smoke, barometric pressure changes, hot/spicy foods, alcohol, hormonal changes, infections, various medications, etc. In order to feel better, one must, first and foremost, identify and avoid their specific triggers. There are a wide variety of medications that may also offer some benefit for both forms of rhinitis. Allergen immunotherapy (i.e. allergy shots) is also a safe and highly effective treatment option.



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