ALLERGEN SKIN TESTING
Skin testing can diagnose symptoms caused by an airborne allergen (pollen, mold, dust mite, or animal dander), food, an insect bite or sting, or certain medications. With this test, we expose the skin to a small amount of the allergen through a tiny puncture first and then, if necessary, by an injection into the upper layer of the skin. A reaction to the allergen occurs if that area of the skin becomes red and swollen over the next 15-20 minutes. Detecting allergy triggers allows you to avoid future exposure.
OUTDOOR AND INDOOR ALLERGEN DESENSITIZATION (Immunotherapy)
Injection desensitization, commonly referred to as an allergy shot, has been used for more than 100 years to treat nose, eye, and lung symptoms caused by various outdoor and indoor allergens. These injections can substantially reduce or even eliminate the need to treat symptoms with allergy medication. The procedure involves weekly injections with gradually increasing doses of the allergen until the immune system no longer responds upon exposure. Once the highest dose is reached, this dose is administered at regular intervals of up to a month apart for at least several years.
For allergies to grass, ragweed, and dust mite, patients can receive sublingual desensitization with a tablet that dissolves under the tongue. This treatment—first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014—is given initially in a medical setting. After that dose, a prescription is given for daily use at home.
FOOD ALLERGY EVALUATION AND ORAL DESENSITIZATION (Oral Immunotherapy)
A diagnosis of food allergy, such as peanut allergy, is made by evaluating the patient’s history of symptoms and by performing skin and/or blood testing, when appropriate. Proper management is discussed. If needed to confirm the absence or presence of a food allergy, an office ingestion challenge occurs in which the patient ingests (eats) increasing amounts of the food at certain time intervals over a specified number of hours.
In recent years, various clinical studies have shown that a gradual increase in the amount of a food eaten can desensitize a person who is allergic to that food. Protocols for desensitization to peanut and certain other foods have been developed. The food must be eaten daily during the period of gradual increase and must be eaten daily once a maintenance amount is reached. During the months of gradually increasing the amount of food eaten, a weekly office visit is needed at the time of the next increase to determine if the higher amount can continue to be eaten daily at home.
ASTHMA LUNG FUNCTION TESTING
Lung function testing is used to diagnose and monitor asthma. When a person exhales as hard as one can into a computerized device called a spirometer, the device measures the amount of air and calculates numbers that reflect how open the airways are. Another device measures nitric oxide content in the exhaled air to determine whether the air passages are inflamed.
IMMUNE GLOBULIN & BIOLOGICS MANAGEMENT
We can assess if immune globulin therapy is appropriate for an immunodeficiency and help to coordinate its administration. Dr. Klein also can assess the need for and administration of Xolair, Nucala, Cinqair, Fasenra, and Dupixent—biologics that treat allergic asthma and possibly other allergic/immune conditions.
STINGING INSECT VENOM SKIN TESTING AND DESENSITIZATION
Stinging insects in the Midwest include honeybees, yellow jackets, yellow hornets, white-faced hornets, and wasps. Skin testing is performed to establish the specific cause. Blood testing may be needed in some instances. Allergy shots are then used to desensitize the immune system when the risk of a life-threatening reaction to the stinging insect is considered to be present. The procedure can also be used for desensitization to fire ants, which are prevalent in the Southeastern United States.
MEDICATION TESTING, CHALLENGES AND DESENSITIZATION
Certain medications have established procedures in the medical literature for diagnosing and managing adverse drug reactions. The testing may involve a skin test, blood test, or a challenge with increasing amounts of the drug at certain time intervals by injection or ingestion. Some medications have protocols for desensitization when medically necessary.
VACCINE TESTING, CHALLENGES AND DESENSITIZATION
The approach for some vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine, is similar to that of medications. However, blood tests are not utilized because blood tests only determine if one is properly vaccinated and immunized against the bacteria or virus.
If you or a family member is affected by difficulty breathing or other symptoms that may be caused by asthma or allergic reactions, then reach out to Consultants in Allergy & Asthma Care, LLC. Dr. Klein can determine the cause and help you create an effective treatment plan. Contact us today for the attention and expertise you need to live a healthy tomorrow. We offer convenient appointment times.