Monday July 23, 2018
What is Allergy and Immunology?
Scratch Testing

In the United States an Allergist-Immunologist is a physician specially trained to manage and treat asthma and other allergic diseases. Becoming an Allergist-Immunologist requires completion of at least nine years of training. After completing medical school and graduating with a medical degree, a physician will then undergo three years of training in internal medicine (to become an internist) or pediatrics (to be a pediatrician).

Once physicians have finished training in one of these specialties, they must pass the exam of either the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) or the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Internists or Pediatricians who wish to focus on the sub-specialty of Allergy-Immunology then complete an additional two years of study, called a Fellowship, in an allergy and immunology training program. Allergist-Immunologist whom are listed as ABAI-certified have successfully passed the certifying examination of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology following their fellowship. They then become Board Certified in Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is an abnormal, acquired sensitivity to a given substance, including pollen, drugs, food, venom or numerous other environmental triggers. An allergy is a local or systemic inflammatory response to allergens. Often times symptoms are swelling of the nasal mucosa, itchy burning eyes, sneezing, wheezing, fullness in the ears and various skin rashes such as hives, or anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction.

What is allergy skin testing?

Skin testing, also known as "puncture testing" and "prick testing" is a series of tiny punctures or pricks made into the patient's skin. Small amounts of suspected allergens and\or their extracts (pollen, dust, molds, food, drugs or venom protein) are introduced to sites on the skin marked with pen. A small plastic or metal device is used to puncture or prick the skin. Common areas for testing include the inside forearm and the back. If the patient is allergic to the substance, then a visible inflammatory reaction will usually occur within 15-20 minutes. This response will range from slight reddening of the skin to a full-blown hive in more sensitive patients. The skin prick test is the most preferred means of testing because of its simplicity and accuracy. Interpretation of the results of the skin prick test is normally done by allergists on a scale of severity, with +/- meaning borderline reactivity and 4+ being a large reaction.

What is the study of Immunology?

Immunology is a broad branch of biomedical science that covers the study of all aspects of the immune system in all organisms. It deals with, among other things, the physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and disease; malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders (autoimmune disease, hypersensitivities, immune deficiency).

What is Immunotherapy (Allergy Shot Therapy)?

Immunotherapy, once called desensitization, is a treatment in which the patient is gradually vaccinated with progressively larger doses of the allergen in question. This can either reduce the severity or eliminate hypersensitivity altogether. The person begins to build up an immunity to increasing amounts of the allergen in question.

What is Immunodeficiency?

The use of immune system components to treat a disease or disorder is known as immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is most commonly used in the context of the treatment of cancers together with chemotherapy (drugs) and radiotherapy (radiation). However, immunotherapy is also often used in the immunosuppressed (such as HIV patients) and people suffering from other non-HIV immune deficiencies or autoimmune diseases.

What is IVIG?

IVIG is a blood product administered intravenously. IVIG is a solution of globulins containing antibodies normally present in adult human blood. Globulins are simple proteins that provide immunity against disease. A protein is made up of several amino acids which are the microscopic building blocks that make up all cells. IVIG is used as a temporary treatment to elevate platelet counts. It is used to treat three major categories: immune deficiencies, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and acute infections.

Administration every month is usually required for treatment of non-HIV Immune Deficiency. Response to treatment is usually seen in 8 days. Immune Globulin comes in sterile solution and is administered intravenously. It is made in different strengths and sizes.


What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic illness involving the respiratory system in which the airway occasionally constricts, becomes inflamed, and is lined with excessive amounts of mucus, often in response to one or more triggers. These episodes may be triggered by such things as exposure to an environmental stimulant (or allergen), cold, warm or moist air, exercise or exertion, or emotional stress. In children the most common triggers are viral illness such as those that cause the common cold. This airway narrowing causes symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.

Between episodes, most patients feel well but can have mild symptoms and they may remain short of breath after exercise for longer periods of time than the unaffected individual. The symptoms of asthma, which can range from mild to life threatening, can usually, be controlled with a combination of drugs and environmental changes. Public attention in the developed world has recently focused on asthma because of its rapidly increasing prevalence, affecting up to one in four urban children. Symptomatic control of episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath is generally achieved with fast-acting bronchodilators. These are typically provided in pocket sized, metered-dose inhalers.


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