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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Allergy & Immunology

Why is my child always sick?  

Your allergist/immunologist will start by determining what type of illnesses/infections your child has had. This may include the type of microorganisms, severity of infections and response to treatments. From there, various testing may be indicated to determine if the frequent infections are due to primary immunodeficiency, uncontrolled allergies, anatomical abnormality or other reasons.  

How do I know if my child really has asthma?

The diagnosis of asthma is established by a combination of clinical history and  pulmonary function testing (if your child is old enough). This test is a common component of visits in the Allergy/Immunology Clinic and is administered by respiratory therapists who work closely with your child’s healthcare provider.  

Does my child have a food allergy?

Your allergist/immunologist can determine if your child has a food allergy by obtaining a detailed medical history and, if indicated, performing allergy testing. The gold standard for the diagnosis food allergy is an oral food challenge. This is available in the Allergy/Immunology Clinic, but may not be necessary for diagnosis.

What is my child allergic to?

Allergy testing assesses for the presence of immunoglobulin type E, or IgE. This test can be done by skin testing or a specialized blood test. Your allergist/immunologist will determine if this test is necessary and which method is best for your child.

Will my child’s food allergies go away?

Part of a clinic visit for food allergy includes extensive education. You will be informed of the prognosis for your child’s food allergy, specifically whether it is likely to be outgrown or not. You will also be given information regarding treatment, avoidance measures, how to read a food label and much more. 

 Are there any treatments for food allergy? What about eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)?

Treatment for food allergy consists predominately of avoidance at this time. For EoE, treatment can include elimination diets, medication and, in some cases, elemental diet.

How do allergy shots work?

Allergy shots are designed to gradually expose you to things in the environment you are allergic to (for example, dogs, dust mites or pollen). This is down slowly over time in order to induce tolerance to the allergens. This treatment option is available for conditions like asthma, allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”) and atopic dermatitis (eczema). These shots are usually given in the arms.

How long does my child need to be on allergy “shots?”

Allergy “shots” must be given frequently in the beginning (1 to 3 times per week). This is called the “build-up” phase. Once this phase is complete, shots are given monthly during the “maintenance phase.”  It is generally recommended that allergy shots be continued once per month at the maintenance dose for 3 to 5 years. This may be different for venom shots.

What in the environment is triggering my child’s eczema?

Eczema is caused by a combination of genetics and the environment. Once present, various triggers can cause a “flare.” During your clinic visit, your allergist/immunologist will determine if this testing is necessary.

Are foods causing my child’s eczema?

Flares of eczema are not commonly caused by food allergens, though they can be. The Allergist/Immunologist will assess the severity of your child’s eczema, treatments tried, response to treatment and much more in order to determine if food allergy testing is indicated.  

Is there a hypoallergenic dog/cat?

Despite what many think, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat. This is in part due to the fact that the allergenic proteins come from the animal's hair, saliva and even the skin!

Does my child have a drug allergy to penicillin?

While penicillin allergy is very common, it is also very common to outgrow it!  Allergy testing and drug challenge is routinely done in the Allergy/Immunology Clinic to determine if a child has “outgrown” his or her penicillin allergy.

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