Frequently Asked Questions

Asthma
  1. Is there a cure for asthma?
  2. Is asthma a psychological disorder?
  3. Is asthma life-threatening?
  4. What happens in an asthma attack?
  5. How long does an asthma attack last?
  6. What should be done during an attack?
  7. Are corticosteroids safe?
  8. When should a person see an allergist?
  9. Why does physical exertion sometimes cause an asthma attack?
  10. Should persons with asthma avoid sports and exercise?
Allergies
  1. What is an allergy?
  2. Are there any allergy testing side effects?
  3. What about allergy testing in children? Who can be tested for allergies?
  4. How is allergy testing done?
  5. How do allergy skin tests work?
  6. How long does it take to get skin test results?
  7. Is skin testing painful?
  8. Does medicine interfere with allergy skin tests?
  9. When are allergy blood tests used?
  10. How long does it take to get blood test results?
  11. Why Is Allergy Test Choice Important?
  12. Why Take a Medical History?
  13. Which test method is best?
  14. What allergies can allergy testing find?
  15. How are skin tests done?
  16. What can I expect during a skin test?
  17. How should I prepare for the test?
  18. Is the test safe?
  19. What do the skin test results mean?
  20. What happens if the skin test shows I have allergies?
  21. Who does skin testing to diagnose allergies?
  22. Does health insurance cover skin testing for allergies?
Miscellaneous
  1. What are migraines?
  2. Can you test me for medication allergies?
  3. Can you test me for allergy to bee sting?
  4. How do you test for allergies in Babies?
  5. How long do I have to be on allergy shots?
  6. Do I need a Referral for an Allergy or Asthma Evaluation?
  7. How do you test for Asthma?

Asthma

Is there a cure for asthma?
Although asthma symptoms are controllable, a cure for asthma has remained elusive. Preventive treatment, however, should minimize the difficulty an individual experiences with asthma, and allow a normal, active lifestyle.
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Is asthma a psychological disorder?
Asthma is not a psychological or emotional disorder, but sometimes a physical display of strong emotion – such as shouting, crying, laughing or rapid breathing – may contribute to an asthma episode. Panic can prevent a person with asthma from relaxing and following instructions properly, which is essential during an attack. Medical scientists have found that behaviors associated with strong emotions can cause bronchial tubes to constrict, which may provoke or worsen an attack.

A chronic disease, such as asthma, can cause emotional strain. Depression may set in when those with asthma believe they cannot participate in normal activities. As a leading cause of work and school absences, asthma can have a significant effect on livelihood, education and emotional well-being.
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Is asthma life-threatening?
In severe and poorly controlled cases, asthma can be life threatening, and the death rate and prevalence of asthma has increased significantly since the late 1970s. Deaths occur more frequently in adults. If there is a single factor leading to severe or fatal asthma attacks, it appears to be a delay in administering appropriate drug therapy.

Working in partnership with an allergist, having an action plan, recognizing the triggers and early warning signals of an impending attack, and using a peak flow meter to detect the degree of bronchial obstruction, can all contribute to a decrease in the frequency and severity of the attacks.
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What happens in an asthma attack?
Because of asthma's chronic, low-grade inflammation and irritation of the bronchial tube lining, airways can become "twitchy" and narrowed in response to certain triggers. During an asthma attack, the muscles that surround the bronchial tubes contract, further narrowing the air passages.

With worsening of asthma, inflammation of the lining of the airways increases and produces swelling and further reduces airway size. In addition, glands in the lining of the air passages secrete excess mucus that accumulates in the already narrowed air passages. Air is trapped behind the narrowed bronchial tubes and there is a decrease in the oxygen available to the body. The result is that breathing, especially exhaling, becomes extremely noisy.
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How long does an asthma attack last?
The duration of an asthma attack can vary according to the type of trigger that caused it and how long the airways have been inflamed. While mild episodes may last only a few minutes, more severe episodes can last from hours to days. Mild attacks can resolve spontaneously or may require medication. More severe attacks can be shortened with appropriate asthma treatment.
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What should be done during an attack?
Always follow the instructions of a physician. People with asthma should have an action plan for dealing with an acute attack. In general, it is important to stay calm and take prescribed medications. Quick-relief medications, including short acting, rapid-onset inhaled beta2-agonist bronchodilators, anticholinergics and systemic corticosteroids are used to treat asthma attacks and are taken on an as-needed basis. They relieve symptoms rapidly by relaxing the muscles surrounding the airways, helping to open the bronchial tubes.
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Are corticosteroids safe?
Taken, as directed, inhaled corticosteroids are safe, well tolerated and one of the most effective medications for asthma treatment. Some studies have suggested that inhaled corticosteroids may slightly reduce the rate of growth in children, perhaps by 1 centimeter per year. The reduction may be related to dosage and how long a child takes the drug. The long-term effects of any reduction in growth rate on final adult height are unknown.

Consequently, it is recommended that physicians use the lowest effective dose of these drugs and that they routinely monitor their patients' growth rates. Patients should discuss any concerns with their child's physician and never change or discontinue prescribed asthma medications unless advised by their doctor.
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When should a person see an allergist?
If an individual is having difficulty breathing or is coughing or wheezing, an allergist can help determine the cause of the condition and provide treatment that controls or eliminates the symptoms. Individuals should see an allergist if:

  • Breathing difficulties are interfering with daily activities
  • Breathing problems are decreasing the quality of their life
  • The warning signs of asthma are present. These include:
    • shortness of breath
    • wheezing or coughing, especially at night or after exercise
    • tightness in the chest
    • frequent attacks of breathlessness, despite previous
    • diagnosis and treatment for asthma

An allergist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergies. The allergist has passed a qualifying examination and is specially trained to identify the factors that trigger asthma or allergies, and help the patient prevent or treat the condition. After earning a medical degree, the allergist completes a three-year residency-training program in either internal medicine or pediatrics, followed by a two- or three-year program of study in the field of allergy and immunology.
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Why does physical exertion sometimes cause an asthma attack?
During exercise, rapid breathing occurs through the mouth. As a result, the air that reaches the bronchial tubes has not been warmed and humidified by passing through the nose. This cold, dry air can trigger asthma symptoms. It usually takes six to eight minutes of sustained aerobic exercise to bring out asthma symptoms, which may then occur for several minutes after the exercise has been completed.

If asthma symptoms begin after fewer than six to eight minutes of hard exercise or during or after very mild exercise, a person's asthma may be out of control and these symptoms should be discussed with a physician. More than 70 percent of all people with asthma suffer some degree of exercise-induced asthma, which is usually preventable.
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Should persons with asthma avoid sports and exercise?
By taking preventive measures, people with asthma should be able to compete in sports. However, not all sports are tolerated equally well. In general, exercise and most sports that involve prolonged periods of running are more likely to provoke asthma attacks than nonaerobic ones.

Swimming is one of the best-tolerated sports. In most instances, pre-exercise medications and warm-up exercises enable participation. Many Olympic athletes, including several gold medal winners, have had asthma.
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Allergies

More than 50 million people in the United States have allergies. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Today allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.

What is an allergy?
An allergy occurs when you react to things like pollen or cats that don't affect most people. If you come into contact with something you are allergic to (called an allergen), you may have symptoms such as itching or sneezing. This is called an allergic reaction.
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Are there any allergy testing side effects?
Any medical test involves some risk. The risk with allergy skin tests is that allergy symptoms might occur during the test. The most common symptoms are itching and swelling of the skin where the tests are. In rare cases, a more serious reaction can occur. That is why a specialist should do skin tests. The risk with allergy blood tests is pain or bleeding at the needle mark. Also, a few people may faint during blood testing.
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What about allergy testing in children? Who can be tested for allergies?
Adults and children of any age can be tested for allergies.
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How is allergy testing done?
Allergy testing can be done as skin tests or as blood tests. Usually, allergy tests are done under the guidance of an allergy specialist. These specialists are trained in the best methods for testing and treating allergies.
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How do allergy skin tests work?
There are two types of skin tests. During the first type of skin test, a drop of a suspected allergen is pricked or scratched on the surface of the skin. The test is performed on the back or forearm. Many suspected allergens are tested at the same time. If you are allergic to one of the tests, you will have redness and swelling at the test spot.

Sometimes the doctor will recommend a second type of test. In this type, a small amount of the suspected allergen is injected into the skin of the arm or forearm. Several suspected allergens are tested at the same time.
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How long does it take to get skin test results?
Skin testing is fast. For both types of skin tests, positive reactions usually appear within 20 minutes. Sometimes redness and swelling can occur several hours after skin testing. The delayed reaction usually disappears in 24 to 48 hours, but should be reported to the allergy doctor or nurse.
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Is skin testing painful?
Both types of skin tests have little or no pain. However, positive reactions cause annoying itching red bumps which look and feel like mosquito bites. The itching and bumps are gone usually in just a few short minutes or hours.
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Does medicine interfere with allergy skin tests?
Yes, Antihistamines will block an allergen response on the skin. Most common Antihistamines include: Zyrtec, Xyzal, Allegra, Claritin, Clarinex, Zantac, Pepcid, Tagamet. Some Tricyclic antidepressants and Benzodiazpines also will block a reaction on the skin. These include: Sinequan, Elavil, Tofranil, Remeron, Trazadone, Phenergan, Valium, Xanax, Ambien. We will do "Controls" on the skin before the complete test due ensures accuracy.
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When are allergy blood tests used?
An allergy blood test is often used because:

  • The patient is taking a medicine that can interfere with skin testing, but cannot be stopped for a few days
  • The patient suffers from a severe skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Testing with a strong allergen might cause an extra large positive reaction
  • For babies and very young children, a single needle stick for allergy blood testing may be better than several skin tests.

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How long does it take to get blood test results?
Because the blood sample must be sent to a lab for testing, it takes many days to get the results.
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Why Is Allergy Test Choice Important?
An important related consideration is for health practitioners to choose the right test, the one best able to aid the diagnostic process. For many reasons, that's not an easy job. Allergy patients are often sensitized to many allergens, but are only clinically allergic to one or more specific substances. Allergists are trained to select tests that pinpoint the relevant allergen, which enables them to develop optimal therapies for each patient. Board-certified allergists recognize that not all allergy tests are alike. They regularly review the scientific literature to learn which testing systems work better than others and the laboratory practices that may affect test results.

Allergy tests should not be ordered randomly, either. They are chosen based on symptoms, environmental and occupational exposures, age, and even hobbies. All results are then interpreted in the context of the patient's medical history.
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Why Take a Medical History?
When it comes to human allergic disease, an individual's medical history is as important as the results of an allergy test. Medical history is the critical link between allergy test results and allergic disease itself.

Allergy skin testing is the gold standard and is used along with the medical history to establish a diagnosis. Both blood and skin allergy tests can detect a patient's sensitivity to common inhalants like pollen and dust mites or to medicines, certain foods, latex, venom, or other substances. Generally skin testing is the most accurate and preferred method used by trained allergists. Allergy blood tests may be ordered in certain specific situations, such as severe skin rashes, or if it is impossible to stop a medication that interferes with the interpretation of the skin test. If the results of skin and blood allergy tests are not clear or are inconsistent with the patient's medical history, allergists rely on their training and experience along with a patient's medical history and a physical examination—not test results—to make the final diagnosis.

Research confirms what allergists already know: Allergy tests are valuable for their ability to give accurate and reliable results that confirm information gathered in the medical history.
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Which test method is best?
Skin tests give fast results. They usually cost less than allergy blood tests. What are the negatives? Young children do not like this type of test. Some medicines can interfere with the tests. In addition, in some people with dark skin it may be hard to read the tests. Blood tests are helpful because they involve a single needle prick. Medicine does not interfere with the results. However, it takes a long time to get the results. Blood tests cost more than skin tests. There are many of types of allergy blood tests. Some types are more helpful than others.

Each test method has pluses and minuses. The test results alone do not diagnose allergies. All test results, from either type of test, must be interpreted together with the medical history.
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What allergies can allergy testing find?
A blood test for allergies can help find allergies to pollen, molds, dust mites, animal dander, insect stings, foods and some medicines.
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How are skin tests done?
Skin tests are done in an allergist's office.

There are two types of skin tests:

  • Prick or scratch test. In this test, a tiny drop of a possible allergen—something you are allergic to— is pricked or scratched into the skin. (This is also called a percutaneous test.) It is the most common type of skin test.
  • Intradermal test. This test shows whether someone is allergic to things such as insect stings and penicillin. A small amount of the possible allergen is injected under the skin through a thin needle.

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What can I expect during a skin test?
Anywhere from 10 to 50 different allergens are tested. It takes about 5 to 10 minutes to place the allergens on your skin. They are usually put on the forearm in adults and on the back in children. Then you will wait about 15 minutes to see if a small red lump appears where any of the allergens were placed. The prick or scratch test and intradermal test may hurt slightly. If you are sensitive to any of the allergens, your skin may itch where the allergen was placed.
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How should I prepare for the test?

  • Tell your allergist about all medicines you're taking, including over-the-counter medicines.
  • Don't take antihistamines for 3 to 7 days before the test. Ask your allergist when to stop taking them. (It's okay to use nose (nasal) steroid sprays and asthma medicines. They will not interfere with skin tests.)

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Is the test safe?
Very small amounts of allergens are tested on your skin, so skin testing is safe. During the test, the allergist will watch for a possible severe allergic reaction, but it rarely happens.
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What do the skin test results mean?
If you're sensitive to an allergen:

  • With the prick or scratch test and intradermal test, a small red bump appears on the skin where that allergen was placed, and this area may itch. The larger the bump, the more sensitive you may be to it.

These results are called positive skin tests and mean that you may be allergic to the allergen tested.

Even if a skin test shows that you're allergic to something, you may not react to it when you're exposed to it later. Your allergist will review your medical history and skin test results to help find out what you're allergic to.
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What happens if the skin test shows I have allergies?
Your allergist will create a plan for controlling your allergies. This means preventing and treating symptoms. Take these steps:

  • Avoid or limit contact with your allergens. For example, if you're allergic to dust mites, reduce the clutter in your house, which collects dust.
  • Take medicine to relieve your symptoms. Your allergist may prescribe medicines such as antihistamines, decongestants, nose (nasal) sprays, or eye drops.
  • Get allergy shots if the allergist says you should. Some people need them when they can't avoid an allergen. The shots contain a tiny but increasing amount of the allergen you're sensitive to. Over time, your body becomes used to the allergen and no longer reacts to it.

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Who does skin testing to diagnose allergies?
Allergists are experts who test for, diagnose and treat allergies.
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Does health insurance cover skin testing for allergies?
Most health insurance plans cover allergy testing and treatment. Ask your insurance carrier:

  • Do I need a referral from my doctor to see an allergist?
  • Does my insurance cover patient education or special services for my allergies?
  • Does my insurance cover a pre-existing health problem? This usually means any health problem that you had before you joined your current health plan.
  • What allergy testing and medicines does my plan cover?

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Miscellaneous

What are migraines?
Migraine headaches vary from very intense and disabling to mild. Migraines tend to be throbbing, usually one-sided headaches, that often are aggravated by sunlight and are frequently accompanied by nausea. Migraine headaches can run in families. There are two general types of migraine: classic and common (plus many variations). If you are having these types of headaches, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor for evaluation, because certain new medications are very effective in preventing and stopping migraines in their tracks.

Classic migraine attacks tend to be severe and of long duration. They are preceded by aura, a sensation that signals the start of a headache. The aura may be a funny smell, partial vision loss or a strange sound.

Common migraine is more prevalent than classic migraine. Attacks are generally milder and shorter. There is no aura. However, because the attacks may occur more frequently, common migraine also can be quite disabling.
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Can you test me for medication allergies?
Yes, we test for allergy to antibiotics, lidocaine and also, Latex, if needed.
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Can you test me for allergy to bee sting?
Yes, We test for allergy to Honey Bee, Paper Wasp, White-faced Wasp, Yellow Jacket and Yellow Hornet, if patient had an anaphylactic reaction to a sting.
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How do you test for allergies in Babies?
There is a limited number of allergy "Pricks" only that we test for on children less than 2 years of age.
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How long do I have to be on allergy shots?
Typically, a patient will be on allergy shots for 3- 5 years, given weekly. Sometimes, a patient will have a large local reaction, which will slow the progress toward desensitization (the goal of allergy immunotherapy).
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Do I need a Referral for an Allergy or Asthma Evaluation?
No, You no longer need a referral to us for allergy or asthma evaluation if you have Medicaid, Medicare or most commercial insurances.
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How do you test for Asthma?
We do a Spirometry Test on at least two visits, which measures several parameters of lung function. In addition to a questionnaire about control, these are some of the tools used to determine if a patient has Asthma.
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Is your question not listed?
Please email us your question at info@aacenter.com.
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