Our main focus is to provide up to date, cost effective care to you and your family. Our physician and staff are trained in the latest advancements of allergy care. We believe open and candid communication between patient and staff is the key to good medical care.

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My nose is running and I am sneezing, do I have a cold or allergies?

Allergies are very common and symptoms vary from making you miserable to putting you at risk for a life threatening reaction.  When allergies affect the eyes, nose, and skin they generally result in watery eyes, runny nose, and hives but in more severe cases can lead to anaphylaxis.  A cold can create similar symptoms but is usually shorter lived and associated with fever, chills, and muscle aches.  Allergy induced symptoms start upon exposure to what is called an allergen and improve when removed or avoided.  For example if you are allergic to trees you will have symptoms only in the Spring but if you are allergic to your cat you may have symptoms all year long.

Most people have more than one allergy so determining your triggers can be challenging.  An allergist can identify and treat allergies if present.  The fastest way to test for allergy is with a process known as skin prick testing. 

What is the difference between food allergy and food intolerance?

Many people suffer from adverse reactions to foods.  Some of these reactions are dangerous and some can lead to significant discomfort.  A food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a food protein and triggers the release of chemicals that result in an allergic reaction.  These reactions are potentially fatal and require testing to identify the culprit.  Food allergies are most common in babies and children but can start at any age even if the food has been consumed all along. 

Food intolerance is a digestive system response as opposed to an immune system reaction and generally occurs when a food irritates the digestive tract or is unable to be broken down.  This type of adverse food reaction is much more common and most people will experience this to a food at some point in their life.  Lactose intolerance is an example of a common food intolerance.

What are hives?

Hives are welts on the skin that itch and can appear in almost any size anywhere on the body.  Hives can be triggered by many substances such as viral illnesses, medications, foods, and insect stings.  Hives usually resolve spontaneously or by avoiding the trigger and do not leave any marks behind.  Some people have chronic hives that occur daily for months or years.  For these individuals pressure, stress, or scratching can aggravate their hives.  An allergist can help you determine the cause of your hives. 

What can I do to help my eczema?

Eczema is different for everyone but generally people suffer from dry sensitive skin that is very itchy. Scratching or rubbing can make the itching and rash worse and even cause the skin to blister and ooze a clear or light yellow fluid. When this happens, the rash can become infected.

There is no cure for eczema but there are ways to control it by staying away from things that make it worse, treating the symptoms with medicine, and taking good care of your skin.  One of the most challenging necessary steps in treatment is moisturizing every day.  This is best done immediately following a warm bath with minimal drying, and with use of a greasy moisturizer (as opposed to a cream or lotion) to “seal in” the moisture.  Avoidance of  scented soaps, fabric softeners, scratchy fabrics, cleaning products, and stress can also help. 

Sometimes I feel short of breath, could I have asthma?

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that leads to recurrent breathing problems.  This originates from an oversensitivity of the lungs and airways to certain “triggers”.  The inflammation makes the airways smaller which makes it difficult to move air through them.   

Asthma is often difficult to diagnose as it looks like a lot of other respiratory diseases.  Some people go years without diagnosis thinking they have recurrent bronchitis and are just poor athletes.  Simple breathing tests with your allergist can identify small changes in lung volumes that are undetectable by physical exam and along with a careful history help diagnose asthma. 

Asthma should not limit activity or prevent you from enjoying the great Alaska outdoors.  Signs of asthma include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.  Early diagnosis and aggressive care
of asthma can prevent scarring, irreversible lung disease and disability that may result from under-treated asthma. 

What are allergy shots?

Allergy shots are a safe and extremely effective method for treating several allergic diseases including hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, and insect sting allergy.  Each allergy shot contains a tiny amount of the specific substance (known as an allergen) that triggers your allergic reaction.  Each injection contains enough allergen to stimulate your immune system but not cause you harm.  This process helps your body get used to the allergens and respond less when you encounter them in the environment.

In addition to reducing nose and eye symptoms and improving asthma control, allergy shots have been shown to reduce total health care costs in children with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) by one-third, and prescription costs by 16 percent.

Do I need to be tested for an insect allergy?

Most allergic insect sting reactions are caused by yellow jackets, honeybees, hornets, and wasps and consist of pain and mild swelling.  Some people however have more severe reactions when their immune systems overreact.  These reactions can be life threatening and require testing and potentially life saving allergy shots. 

How do you test for allergies?

A careful history and physical exam is the best first step in the diagnosis of allergy.  Without an appropriate history testing can lead to results which are very confusing and difficult to interpret.  Skin testing is the fastest and most efficient way to test and involves scratching or pricking a small amount of allergen onto the skin.  If you are positive the area of skin exposed will become red, raised, and itchy.  This test is best performed on the back and is relatively painless with results available within 20 minutes.  When skin testing is not possible there is a blood test that can also identify allergy but these results will not be available the day of your appointment. 

I have had a rash for weeks, could it be caused by an allergy to my new shampoo?

Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes in contact with an allergen or irritating substance and causes a rash, itching, burning, or blister. Most cases of contact dermatitis are not caused by an allergen but by something that irritates the skin such as soap, detergents and some plants. A careful history and in some cases patch testing (4-5 day test with stickers placed on your skin) can help identify the culprit.

Are there indoor allergies?

Pet hair or dander, dust mites, and molds are the most common indoor allergens.  In Alaska cold temperatures often cause people to spend more time indoors.  These indoor allergens can trigger sneezing, sniffing, stuffy nose, and eye watering all year long.  These symptoms can often be less dramatic than those that occur with sudden exposure to outdoor allergens.  Allergy shots can be a great option to treat indoor allergies when medications are not working or wish to be avoided. 

Why does my mouth itch when I eat a fresh apple?

The most common outdoor allergies are to weeds, grass, and trees but in Alaska the Birch tree is the main cause for seasonal hay fever.  The interesting thing about Birch pollen is that is shares similar protein structure with many fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  When people with birch allergy develop mouth itching, tingling, and even swelling after eating a fresh apple they are experiencing something known as oral allergy syndrome.  The risk of a serious reaction is low but the symptoms can be very bothersome and particularly difficult for those who enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables.