About Allergies



Seasonal Allergies


Seasonal allergies often referred to as “hay fever” affects 35 million Americans. Symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes, and itching in the mouth (palate and throat) are caused from exposure to outdoor allergens. Allergens are substances that are not harmful, but cause allergic reactions in some people. Seasonal allergens include pollen (tree, grass, weed and ragweed) and mold spores.

Skin testing can be done in the office to identify which pollen or mold is causing the symptoms and a treatment plan can be made.

In Michigan, we typically experience high levels of pollen and mold during the following times:

April-May
May-July
July-September
Mid August-October
March-November (or first frost)
Tree
Grass
Weed
Ragweed
Mold


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Perennial Allergies (Year Round)


Some people suffer from allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion and runny nose all year round. Allergens that are present year round include dust mite, indoor mold or pets.

Skin testing can be done in the office to identify the allergic trigger and a treatment plan can be made to control them.

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Food Allergies

People with food allergies develop allergy symptoms from either eating or touching certain foods. The most common foods to cause food allergies are:

  • Cow's Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Tree Nuts 

Reactions can range from mild symptoms such rash, runny nose and sneezing to more severe symptoms such as hives, swelling of the throat or tongue, wheezing and vomiting. Some patients can have anaphylaxis, which is a life threatening allergic reaction with drop in blood pressure and sometimes loss of consciousness (fainting). 

Peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies are usually life long food allergies, but food allergies caused by milk, egg, soy and wheat are often outgrown. 

We provide allergy testing in our office to a large variety of foods. Once the food is identified, we can help you learn ways for you or your child to avoid the food as well as supply you with medications to treat reactions.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network has information on how to help you read labels to avoid those foods that you are allergic to. How To Read A Food Label.

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Peanut and Tree Nut Allergy


Peanut and tree nut (cashew, almond, walnut, filbert nut, hazel nut, pecan, coconut) allergies are potentially life threatening allergies and should be taken very seriously. There is no cure for peanut or tree nut allergy yet, so strict avoidance is very important.

If we suspect a patient has peanut or tree nut allergy, we can do a simple and quick skin test in the office and make the diagnosis. All children with peanut or tree nut allergy should have a written Food Allergy Action Plan for school, day care or camp. If you do not have a Food Allergy Action Plan you can download one from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis website by clicking on Food Allergy Action Plan.

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Food Allergy Action Plan

All children that attend day care, school or camp should have a written Food Allergy Action plan. This is a written plan that gives guidelines on when to administer medications such as Epinephrine and or Benadryl.  At least two Epinephrine doses should be available in case a second dose is needed.

If your school does not have a Food Allergy Action Plan, then download one from Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network website. Food Allergy Action Plan.

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Hives


Hives, also known as Urticaria, are raised red to white bumps that can resemble mosquito bites. Hives are actually very common and up to 20% of the population may have an episode of hives. Sometimes there is an obvious cause of hives, but other times there is no identifiable trigger.

Hives can occur in response to an allergic reaction from eating a food or taking a drug. Some people can have a chronic form of hives and are triggered by cold temperatures (Cold-Induced Urticaria) or pressure on the skin (Pressure Urticaria).

There are some patients that have chronic hives (more than 6 weeks) without an obvious trigger or allergy. These patients can have hives either daily or on an and off for years. There is no cure for this disease but a thorough evaluation should be made to make sure there is no underlying reason for the hives. If no reason can be found, then patients can be offered a treatment program usually involving a combination of antihistamines as well as other medications tailored to that patient to decrease the severity and frequency of the hives.

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Drug Allergies

A drug allergy is an allergic reaction to a medication. The time frame from taking a drug to developing a reaction can range from immediate to as long as a few weeks. Symptoms can range from just itching or a mild rash to more severe symptoms such as hives, swelling of the throat or face, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis (life threatening reaction including shock and death).

Determining if a patient has a drug allergy depends on the patient’s history, medications taken and the symptoms. Sometimes we can do skin testing for certain drugs. Drug challenges (giving the patient a drug while monitored in the office) are also helpful to determine a drug allergy. Lastly, we can also attempt to desensitize a patient to a drug that they are allergic to if they really need to take that particular drug and have limited or no other options.

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Eczema

Eczema is a chronic skin disorder.  Patients suffer from very itchy and dry skin. Some patients can have a food allergy causing the eczema. If there is a food allergy causing the eczema, we can do allergy skin testing in the office, help determine the food and give advice on how to avoid the food.  We can also give suggestions on using certain non- irritating soaps, detergents, moisturizing agents and medications.

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Insect Sting Allergy

There are 5 stinging insects that can cause allergic reactions: Honey Bee, Wasp, White Faced Hornet, Yellow Faced Hornet and Yellow Jacket. Reactions from a sting can be “local”, i.e. swelling at the site of sting or “systemic”. A systemic reaction is when you have a more generalized reaction over the body such as hives or difficulty breathing, i.e. wheezing, throat swelling, or passing out. 

We provide testing in our office for insect allergy. We also treat those patients with proven insect allergy with a highly effective allergy shot program (desensitization) directed specifically at the insects they are allergic to.

Patients with insect sting allergies should avoid areas where insects may gather such as trash containers, beehives, nests, and cider mills.  Always were shoes when walking on grassy areas in case you step on a stinging insect.  Patients should always carry Epinephrine and a Medic Alert Bracelet.

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Sinus Infections

Sinus infections or sinusitis is an infection of the hollow cavities around the cheekbones and behind the eyes and nose. Symptoms include congestion, postnasal drip, cough, discolored nasal discharge, pressure or pain in the face or in the teeth (upper teeth), bad breath, and headache. Patients can, but rarely do have a fever. Often a sinus infection can occur after the common cold.

If you have repeated sinus infections (more than 2-3 sinus infections per year) you may have allergies. Allergies cause swelling of the nasal and sinus passages and make you trap bacteria easier and cause an infection.

There are other causes of sinusitis such as polyps or other anatomical blockages. Lastly, you can have problems with the immune system (Immune Deficiency).  If you are having recurring sinus infections, we can determine if you have allergies, a blockage or an immune deficiency.

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Animal and Pet Allergies


Children and adults can have allergy and asthma symptoms from exposure to animals. Symptoms can include chronic runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, swelling of the eyes, repeated infections, sinus congestion, cough, wheezing and asthma.  

Pets such as dogs and cats have an allergic protein that comes from their sweat glands. The pet hair then carries this allergic protein and gets on clothing, carpet, bedding, furniture, car upholstery, etc.

The best treatment for animal allergy is avoidance including removing the animal from the home. Many pet owners attempt to keep their pet by trying to clean the home more frequently, wash the pet weekly, vacuum more regularly and obtain air filters/purifiers in the home. For some patients this is helpful, but the best and most consistent results are obtained from removing the pet from the home.

Skin testing in the office can be done to determine if you are allergic to animals and a treatment plan can then be developed. We have the ability to test to dogs, cats, horses, guinea pig, hamsters and gerbils in our office.

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Allergy Skin Testing


Allergy skin testing is done in the office to determine if you have allergies. We can skin test to many different foods, pollens (trees, grass, weeds, ragweed), mold, dust mite, animals, certain drugs and stinging insects.

Skin testing involves placing a small drop of liquid on the skin and lightly scratching it with a plastic device. We have a device that can place 8 tests at a time if needed. It takes just a few seconds to place the test. We then wait 20 minutes to read the tests.

Some patients require a second level of testing involving injecting a very small amount of allergen in the top layer of the skin (similar to a TB test). This type of testing takes an additional 20 minutes.

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