Pediatric Allergy and Immunology
The following describes allergies and disorders of the immune system, particularly in children and how we approach allergies and immune conditions at Hurley Medical Center. For specific information regarding your child’s health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
Leaders in the treatment of allergies & immune conditions
The allergy and immunology specialists at Hurley Medical Center are highly experienced in the medical aspects of allergies and the human immune system. Offering individualized, comprehensive care for each patient, they are your child’s best resource for the treatment of allergic and immune system conditions.
Allergy and Immunology
Allergy and Immunology is the field of medicine which focuses on disorders involving the immune system. Some examples of these disorders include: asthma, anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), rhinitis (hay fever), eczema (inflammation of the skin), negative reactions to drugs, foods and insect stings, immune deficiency diseases (both acquired and hereditary), malignancies of the immune system, and problems related to autoimmune disease or organ transplantation.
Allergic disorders are the most common of children’s chronic diseases. In most people, allergies first appear during infancy or childhood. Any child may become allergic, but children from families with a history of allergy are more likely to be allergic. Children’s allergies can show up in different ways, including:
- Skin rashes (atopic dermatitis or eczema)
- Allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever)
- Food allergies
If your child has asthma or severe allergy, make sure the school nurse has a copy of your child’s action plan. Also, make sure the nurse knows how to give your child medication in case of an emergency. Click here to learn about Hurley Asthma Clinic, and the many ways we can help you and your child control this chronic disease.
What are allergies?
Allergies are exaggerated reactions of the immune system to substances that, in most people, cause no symptoms. These negative reactions can be brought about if the skin is exposed to a chemical, if the respiratory system encounters dust or certain kinds of pollen, or if a person eats a particular food.
What is the immune system?
The immune system is a collection of cells and proteins that protects the body from potentially harmful or infectious microorganisms (microscopic bacteria, viruses and fungi). The immune system plays a role in the control of cancer and other diseases but also is involved with allergies, hypersensitivity, and the rejection of transplanted organs, tissues and medical implants.
What are allergy symptoms?
Allergy symptoms occur when your immune system overreacts to an allergen, such as plant pollen, dust mites, molds, insect stings or food. If you have an allergy, your immune system acts as if the allergen was dangerous to your body, releasing a chemical called histamine that causes allergy symptoms. If the allergen is something you breathe in from the air, your body’s reaction will most likely affect your eyes, nose and lungs. If the allergic reaction is caused by something you ate, it may affect your mouth, stomach and intestines. Food allergies also can cause skin rashes or asthma symptoms. Allergy symptoms vary depending on the type of allergen.
What is the treatment for allergies?
Your first step is to see a Hurley board certified allergist-immunologist. This is a physician who is specially trained and experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases, as well as nonallergic asthma, rhinitis, food and drug reactions, and other types of problems of your immune system, like frequent infections and related conditions.
Your allergist will obtain a detailed medical history, then will examine you and evaluate your symptoms. Skin tests or allergy blood tests may be performed to find out the exact causes of your allergic symptoms. Based on the entire clinical evaluation, your physician will make a diagnosis.
If the allergy tests are negative, your allergist can still help find the cause of your symptoms. There are three types of allergy treatments: prevention, medication, and immunotherapy.
Researchers are now studying new ways of treating allergies. Soon, we may have better ways to block the body’s allergic response by reducing or inhibiting the release of histamine and other chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Scientific researchers are also working to develop the strongest and safest vaccines for allergy. When these treatments become available, you can be sure that Hurley’s allergists-immunologists will be at the forefront of using them in treatment.
What are Allergy Shots and Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a form of preventive, anti-inflammatory treatment of an allergy to substances such as pollens, dust mites, fungi, and stinging insect venom. Immunotherapy involves giving a person gradually bigger doses of the substance he or she is allergic to. This causes the immune system to become less sensitive to the substance, maybe by causing production of a particular ‘blocking’ antibody. This exposure to the allergic substance hopefully will reduce allergic symptoms when it is encountered in the future.