Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pins and Needles: The Allergy Skin Prick Test – What To Know!

For those unlucky Arizonans, seasonal allergies are the pits. The pollens that bring sneezing, itchy and swollen eyes, and all around misery can really put a cramp in our desert lifestyle. Many allergy sufferers will at some point wind up at doctors office for a skin prick test (SPT) to determine which pollens and allergens they are allergic to. The results of this test can help you avoid your particular triggers, whether it's staying indoors during prime grass season or taking allergy medicine before you leave the house. The skin prick test itself is straightforward type of allergy testing, but knowing what to expect can help ease anxieties if the idea of getting this test puts you on pins and needles.

                          Allergy Testing to Determine Specific Type of Allergic Reaction & Treatment

Allergy Testing – What to Expect

The first part of your appointment should be familiar. The nurse will take your height, weight and blood pressure. You'll settle into a room and wait for the doctor. The allergist will come in and ask you questions regarding your symptoms and how you are feeling and will look in your eyes, nose and throat. He'll also listen to your heart and lungs. This is the time to discuss how your current allergy medications are working for you and what you hope to gain from the appointment. The visit may lead to new medications or even allergy shots if your symptoms to certain pollens are severe.

After the allergy doctor talks with you, the nurse will give you some privacy so that you can strip down to your waist. You'll put on a gown without a back and lie down on a table. When the nurse comes in, she'll have with her all of the allergens that they will be testing.
"For seasonal allergies, you can expect us to test your body on about 50 to 60 different types of allergens, mostly grasses, weeds, trees and a few molds."
The nurse will quickly mark your back in rows with a sharpie or dry erase marker to create a map of sorts. The allergens are all sterile and are administered using a lancet, which barely breaks the skin. It is done very quickly and is usually over in about a minute. You may experience mild discomfort or even a ticklish sensation during the process. A control, which is always histamine, will also be applied. Everyone has histamine in their body, but it can affect them differently. Certain people don't react to histamine right away, and this means that the test may be difficult to diagnose.

Allergy Skin Prick Test
You will be left for about 25 minutes while the allergens do their work and your body reacts. Once the allotted time is past, she will come back in with a chart and will check the results on your back and mark them down. Once finished, she'll create a printout for you to keep that shows your results, and the doctor will come back in to talk to you. Your allergist will discuss your reactions to the various allergens, such as the size of the wheal and flare, which are the bumps and redness that your back will develop. He will also explain what the numbers mean for you and what treatments might be necessary going forward.

Having knowledge of what pollens and desert allergens affect your body will give you the power to ease your symptoms, whether it's through avoidance or treatment. Allergy skin prick testing is complete and straightforward with hardly any discomfort to speak of.

Set up an appointment today for our skin allergy testing to find out what your triggers are so that you can put yourself back in the driver's seat this summer.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Gluten-Free Diet: Alternatives to Wheat in Menu Planning

If you suffer from celiac disease or a milder form of wheat intolerance allergy, planning a menu can become significantly more difficult. However, with growing numbers of people reporting some level of food allergy symptoms (wheat & being allergic to peanuts being quite common), it's becoming easier than ever to eat well without feeling too restricted.

Cutting Out the Wheat when allergic to wheat

Here are some alternatives to wheat to build a healthy, delicious, and gluten-free diet around. And of course, we recommend that you see a gastroenterologist as well,  since these doctors specialize in celiac disease and are the best ones to diagnose it.
Rice Flour
Rice flour is an excellent alternative to traditional wheat-based flours. This fine, starchy flour can thicken sauces and soups and is also a great substitute for using in baked goods. Just like wheat flour, rice flour's mild flavor will not overpower your dish.

Corn Tortillas
In Arizona, corn tortillas and authentic Mexican tortillas can be found everywhere, at any grocery store. Plus, these easy-to-find snacks are extremely affordable. Corn tortillas are a great alternative to flour-based wraps and breads. The sweet, earthy flavor complements just about anything, so you needn't stick to eating these only when making Tex-Mex food!

Baked Tortilla Chips
Tortilla chips are a delicious gluten-free snack on their own. With a bowl of salsa or guacamole on the side, you can have a yummy snack that will satisfy your cravings. Tortilla chips are also extremely versatile in the gluten-free kitchen. Crushed tortilla chips make an excellent breading alternative for dishes like fried chicken and coconut shrimp. Plus, ground tortilla chips can work as a thickening agent for sauces and soups while offering a slightly sweeter flavor than flour.
Quinoa Pasta
Up until recently, those who avoided gluten had a difficult time finding an alternative to wheat pasta in the grocery store. However, quinoa pasta is now widely available in major outlets across the country. Quinoa pasta requires about the same cooking time as traditional wheat pasta, and its flavor and texture is basically indistinguishable from the original.
Brown Rice
Brown rice is an excellent and nutrient-rich alternative to gluten-filled side dishes. You can enjoy brown rice on its own or use flour produced from it to make breads and pastas.

 Popcorn is a delicious gluten-free snack that is extremely filling without necessarily being heavy on the fat and sugar. With just a little salt and olive oil, a big bowl of popcorn can be deeply satisfying.
Tamari Sauce
Many people are unaware that soy sauce contains gluten, which when combined with the ubiquitous noodles can make Chinese food a minefield for wheat allergy sufferers. Luckily, there is an alternative to soy sauce called tamari. Like soy sauce, tamari adds deliciously savory 'umami' flavor to any dish, yet contains no gluten whatsoever. If you're an avid sushi or oriental food lover, tamari will be your new best friend.
Gluten-Free Oats
If you like your morning oatmeal, gluten-free oats provide the same texture and flavor as the traditional version. Plus, these oats can serve other purposes as well. For instance, if your meatloaf recipe calls for breadcrumbs, gluten-free oats make an excellent substitute.
Suffering from a wheat allergy can make life complicated in the kitchen, but if you want to avoid the unpleasant or dangerous symptoms, then it's essential to cut out gluten completely. Luckily, these days there are many alternatives, and so there's no need to feel your enjoyment of food is being restricted by your dietary requirements.

Monday, June 5, 2017

5 FAQS to Know about Allergies and Allergists

Associates of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. While that number is jarring, additional statistics show that approximately one out of six Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis. The following information will describe what allergic rhinitis is, what triggers it and why consulting an allergist as opposed to your primary care physician is the best course of action to take if you believe that you may be living with allergies.

What is allergic rhinitis?

Allergy means "strange activity" in Greek. Rhinitis, also Greek in origin, literally means "condition of the nose." Therefore, allergic rhinitis, which is also referred to as hay fever, can be defined as a condition in which irritants cause "inflammation of the nose or its mucous membrane."

What causes allergies?

Pollen is a powdery fertilizing agent that flowering plants release in order to fertilize other plants. It helps create beautiful gardens, but
pollen also makes it difficult for people with seasonal allergies to enjoy them.

Pollen, which is transported through the air, attaches itself to a person's hair, skin and clothing. When people who are sensitive to pollen breathe in pollen-laden air, typical symptoms include "sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat and eyes and wheezing."

Pollen and debris from an animal's coat or feathers are two of the most common irritants that trigger allergic rhinitis symptoms. However, it is worth mentioning that pollen is not just limited to flowers. For example, certain trees, grasses, and desert plants like cacti are also pollen-heavy. Additionally, dust and chemicals from pipe, cigar and cigarette smoke are other windborne irritants, and all the above can be particularly tough on people living with allergies. This is just one reason why attempting to self-medicate with over the counter medicine is not advised.

Why do you need to see an allergist instead of your primary care physician?

Unlike general physicians,
allergists are physicians who have completed additional training programs that allow them to effectively diagnose and treat asthma and allergic diseases. The following list describes some of the health issues that an allergist-immunologist treats:

  • asthma
  • hay fever
  • sinusitis
  • rashes
  • hives  (ACAAI)

What should you expect when you visit an allergist?

allergist-immunologist will conduct a thorough medical history and physical exam. Skin and blood tests may also be incorporated in order to determine exactly what substances are causing allergic reactions. This is typically done in an in-house testing lab. The new client visit could take up to two hours. Once the irritants have been identified, allergists will create a treatment plan that may include dietary recommendations, inoculations and other medication specifically designed for their clients' needs.

Is there a cure for allergies?

Unfortunately, no. However, immunotherapy and specialty medicines as well as education, can greatly reduce the symptoms that people living with allergies would normally experience by attempting to self-medicate, which can be dangerous. By consulting a top Phoenix allergist, these individuals can avoid wasting time, money and possibly putting their health at risk and focus on enjoying life.


American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Allergy | Define Allergy at (n.d.). Retrieved from

Rhinitis | Define Rhinitis at (n.d.). Retrieved from

American Board of Allergy and Immunology:. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Allergy Facts | (n.d.). Retrieved from

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What is a Pollen Allergy

Call it what you will – pollinosis, a nasal allergy, or just plain “hay fever” – millions of people suffer from the effects of pollen every day. The affliction ranges in form from a small and short sniffling in the morning hours to full-blown sneezing fits throughout the day. The condition is irritating and aggravating but, rest assured, it is not life threatening.

What exactly is pollen?

Pollen grains are part of the male portion of seed plants. It is an integral part of the plant ecosystem around us and by its very nature is commonplace. In fact, without pollen, life on the planet Earth would not even be possible – so get used to the fact that it will be around for some time to come. This last fact does not mean, however, that human healthcare specialists are unable to deal with a pollen allergy in any meaningful way.

What can be done to alleviate an allergy to pollen?

Healthcare professionals have developed a number of effective remedies but it really takes a specialist to recommend the most effective one. In particular, you may be prescribed antihistamines or decongestants to start, nasal corticosteroids if these first two do not prove effective or an ipratropium or a leukotriene modifier. If these medicines do not solve the problem, an allergy specialist may finally resort to immunotherapy administered by injection.

This information is of more than passing concern to any resident of the Phoenix area who is even mildly allergic to pollen. In fact, it is integral to their well-being. Keep it in mind whenever you have an allergic reaction to pollen and if you do need more information on the basics of pollen, why it provokes an allergic reaction and how best to treat it, please contact us at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates. We can be booked online, or reached directly at 602-242-4592.