Allergy & Asthma Consultants is dedicated to finding the root of each patient’s health concerns and creating the most effective and comprehensive treatment program to meet their individual needs. Below is more information on a variety of conditions treated.
allergies_asthma_bozeman

Click on any of the Conditions below to learn more.

Asthma

What is asthma?

Asthma is a relatively common chronic lung disease in which the lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen and muscle spasms restrict the flow of air to the lungs. The incidence of asthma has grown in recent years. Currently, it is estimated that 12 million Americans, including more than four million children, have asthma.

Symptoms:

Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Causes:

Although the exact cause of asthma is still being studied, it is known to be a combination of inflammation of the lung combined with narrowing of the lung passages activated by the body’s immune system. There are a number of factors that are known to trigger an asthma episode, including:

  • Exposure to allergens
  • Exercise
  • Emotional stress
  • Weather conditions
Treatments:

With proper diagnosis and treatment by an asthma specialist, most people with asthma can pursue normal lifestyles, sleep through the night, avoid acute “attacks,” prevent missed school or work days, and lead a full life with normal physical activity.This information has been provided by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Cough

Why do we cough?

Coughing protects the body by removing mucus, irritating substances, and infections from the respiratory tract, and clearing mucus and fluids from the airways.

Symptoms:

Coughing is the most common respiratory symptom for which patients seek medical attention. Coughing does not always mean there is a problem, however, coughing at night after going to sleep is almost always abnormal and needs medical attention.

Causes:

There are a number of causes for coughing, including allergies, respiratory infections, weather changes, air quality, and many more.

Treatments:

Treatments are varied and depend on the specific associated symptoms and causes. As cough may be worsened by more than one contributing factor, treatment of various underlying causes can produce excellent results.

Allergy

What are allergies?

One of the marvels of the human body is that it can defend itself against harmful invaders such as viruses and bacteria. But sometimes the defenses are too aggressive, and harmless substances such as food, drugs, or pollen are mistakenly identified as dangerous. These triggers are called “allergens.”

Symptoms:

The immune system typically rallies a defensive response, launching a host of complex chemicals to attack and destroy the supposed enemy. In the process, some unpleasant and, in extreme cases, life-threatening symptoms may be experienced by the allergy-prone individual. These allergic reactions may occur anywhere in the body, but usually happen in the skin, eyes, lining of the stomach, nose, sinuses, throat and lungs, places where the immune system normally fights off invaders that are inhaled, swallowed, or come in contact with the skin.

Common Allergies:

Food allergies, pollen and animal dander allergies, and stinging insect allergies.

Treatments:

Treatments are varied and depend on the specific symptoms and causes. Treatment strategies focus on avoidance of allergen triggers when possible, strategic use of medications, and in some instances, specific immunotherapy or allergy shots. Allergy shots may be utilized in treating allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies), allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies), asthma with allergic triggers, stinging insect allergy, and atopic dermatitis/eczema in those with airborne allergen sensitivity.

Sinus Problems and Headaches

What are sinuses?

Oftentimes headaches can be an indicator of sinus problems. Sinuses are hollow cavities within the cheekbones, around the eyes, and behind the nose that contain mucus to warm, moisten, and filter the air we breathe. Occasionally, something blocks the mucus from draining, resulting in a sinus infection. If symptoms don’t go away within a week to 10 days, a bacterial infection may develop.

Symptoms:

Most symptoms are similar to that of a common cold, and can also include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Facial pressure
  • Coughing
  • Thick nasal discharge
Treatment:

Treatment plans depend on the cause, severity, and duration of symptoms, which can all be determined by an allergy specialist. Addressing an allergic predisposition is often but not always included in the treatment strategy. Other treatments are aimed at relieving inflammation and may include nasal saline irrigation with or without added medication, oral medications possibly including antibiotics, and the use of various nasal sprays. Antibiotic use may be minimized by addressing predisposing or underlying factors.

Food Allergy and Intestinal Problems

What are food allergies?

If you have a particular food allergy, your immune system overreacts to ingestion or exposure to that food. This immunologic reaction to the food is caused by an antibody called IgE (Immunoglobulin E), which is found in people with allergies. Food allergies are more likely to develop in someone who has family members with allergies. Distinguishing food allergy from other types of food intolerance is valuable as treatment strategies are selected based on the underlying cause.

Symptoms:

A variety of symptoms may occur after even a tiny amount of the food is consumed. Symptoms of allergic reactions are generally seen on the skin in the form of hives, itchiness, and swelling. Gastrointestinal symptoms may include vomiting and diarrhea. Respiratory symptoms may accompany skin and gastrointestinal symptoms, and are of significant concern.

Treatments:

Testing by an allergy specialist will help pinpoint exact allergens, allowing treatment programs to focus on the needs of each patient. Treatment for food allergy centers on accurately identifying food allergens for the purpose of avoidance. Additionally, a written food allergy action plan may be generated that outlines specific interventions geared toward matching the amount of therapy to the severity of the reaction. Many patients find this resource valuable as many months or years may pass before requiring acute treatment of a food allergy reaction.

Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States

Skin Conditions, Rashes, Hives, and Swelling

What about my skin?

There are several types of allergic skin conditions that are typically either an allergic reaction or a treatable skin disease.

Symptoms:

Skin condition symptoms often include itchy, red skin that may appear scaly, bumpy or swollen.

Common skin conditions treated:

Urticaria (hives), angioedema (swelling), irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, and atopic dermatitis/eczema.

Treatments:

Treatment strategies focus on understanding and addressing the underlying cause. In some instances avoidance of identified offending allergens is applicable, where in other instances the well-advised and strategic use of medications may be required.

Medication Reactions and Latex Allergy

What about medical allergies?

Although medicine is designed to help people, all medications can have side effects. About five to 10 percent of adverse reactions to commonly used drugs are allergic reactions. Calling a reaction an “allergic reaction” implies and over -reaction by the immune system. Differentiating allergic drug reactions from other types of adverse reactions is valuable, as the nature or cause of the reaction may have significant implications pertaining to the treatment and selection of medications for future conditions that require medication. Latex is a milky fluid produced by rubber trees. Using different methods, latex can be processed into a variety of products, such as gloves and balloons. During manufacturing, chemicals are added to increase the speed of curing and to protect the rubber from oxygen in the air, and oftentimes people can experience allergic reactions to these chemicals.

Treatments:

When a person requires a medication to which they are “allergic,” desensitization may be possible. Allergists are trained in making this determination and capable of offering a desensitizing strategy where appropriate. In those cases where an adverse reaction to a medication is caused by “intolerance” rather than an “allergy,” induction of drug tolerance may be considered. Often it is enough to pinpoint the offending medication so that it may be substituted with an acceptable alternative.

Recurrent Infections

What if I’m always sick?

Germs are everywhere, and everyone gets an infection once in a while. However, while most people can recover on their own from most infections, some people experience recurring ones that require antibiotic treatment.

Treatments:

An allergist/immunologist is trained to evaluate and treat patients with recurrent and severe infections.

Severe Allergic Reactions

What is anaphylaxis?

Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergic disease, and the incidence is increasing.

Symptoms:

When most of us think of allergies, we think of sneezing, runny nose, or watery eyes. While those are symptoms of some types of allergic disease, an allergic reaction is actually a product of several events occurring within your immune system. While most allergic reactions are not severe, some foods and other allergens can trigger a severe, systemic allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. The most dangerous symptoms are low blood pressure, breathing difficulty, and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal. Others include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal high-pitched breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Chest discomfort or tightness
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Palpitations
  • Redness of the skin
  • Slurred speech
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue
  • Wheezing
Treatment:

This medical emergency requires immediate treatment and then follow-up care by an allergist. If you have any of these symptoms, particularly after eating, taking medications, or being stung by an insect, seek medical care immediately (call 911). Don’t wait to see if your symptoms go away or get better on their own. As a form of treatment, as in the case of stinging insect allergy, your doctor may recommend venom immunotherapy (allergy shots), which can provide long-term resistance to the triggering allergen. In other instances, properly identifying the offending allergen is the first step in learning to avoid future reactions. A written allergy action plan that outlines the appropriate use of life saving medication(s) is often an important part of a treatment plan.

Stings and Venom Allergies

What about stingers?

When an insect stings most people, the site develops redness, swelling, and itching. However, some people are allergic to insect stings, meaning that their immune systems overreact to the venom. The most common insect allergies involve:

  • Yellow Jackets
  • Honey Bees
  • Wasps
  • Hornets
  • Fire Ants
Symptoms:

If you are insect-allergic, after the first sting, your body produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). If stung again by the same kind of insect, the venom interacts with this specific IgE antibody, triggering the release of substances that cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling of the face, throat or tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea or Diarrhea
  • Itchiness and hives over large areas of the body
Treatment:

If you have any of these symptoms after an insect sting, seek medical care immediately (call 911). Don’t wait to see if your symptoms go away or get better on their own. After that, make sure to have follow-up treatment with an allergy specialist. As a form of treatment, your doctor may recommend venom immunotherapy (allergy shots), which can provide long-term resistance to the triggering allergen(s).

Eye Allergies

What are eye allergies?

If your eyes are itchy, red, tearing, or burning, pay attention to what they may be telling you. You may have eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, a condition that affects millions of Americans.

Symptoms:

Allergic conjunctivitis is a condition that can occur alone, but often accompanies nasal allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, sniffling, and stuffy nose. While most people treat nasal allergy symptoms, they often ignore their itchy, red, watery eyes, which are the most common eye-related ones.

Treatment:

An allergy specialist can help pinpoint allergic triggers and recommend treatment plans accordingly. Treatments are varied and depend on the specific causes, focusing on avoidance of offending allergens where possible, well-advised and strategic use of medications and, in some instances, allergen specific immunotherapy or allergy shots.