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What is allergy?

Allergy is an immunological response that your body “overreacts” to what it identifies as foreign, known as allergens. The allergic reaction leads to typical and reproducible reactions known as symptoms that can affect either one or a group of systems collectively.

These systems often include the:


Your immune system consists of various white blood cells and antibodies which circulate, monitor, and protects your body against harmful foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells. However, sometimes your body makes a “mistake” and recognizes harmless substances (such as food, ie peanuts) as dangerous and overreacts, leading to either an immediate or delayed hypersensitivity reaction. Our office helps in identifying suspected allergens that trigger your body’s immune system to overreact.

Common Allergies:

The prevalence of allergies has increased over the last 2 decades, affecting 1 in 4 children and 30% of adults in North America. Consequently, identifying, treating and ultimately preventing allergies is major health concern. Because it is so common and elusive, many people often seek the Internet to help them understand allergies.

An immediate hypersensitive reaction occurs when white blood cells in your body makes an antibody known as IgE targeted against an allergen such as peanut. IgE will bind to special white blood cells known as “mast cells” causing them to release various mediators of inflammation such as histamine which leads to allergic symptoms including  local redness, swelling, itching, etc. Immediate hypersensitive reactions occur within minutes up to 1 hour after exposure to the allergen.

Classic allergy symptoms:

Delayed hypersensitivity reactions occur when specialized white blood cells known as T cells overreact to an allergen, leading to symptoms such as eczema (allergic contact dermatitis). Delayed hypersensitivity reactions occur 24 to 48 hours after exposure to the allergen.

Hypersensitivity reactions can lead to various allergic diseases and conditions which including allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, food allergy, anaphylaxis, drug allergy, insect sting reaction, bite reaction, and atopic dermatitis.

Over-the-counter medications:

Antihistamines: Blocks the action of histamines responsible for allergic symptoms.

Nasal saline therapies: Assist with nasal hygiene and help with management of “colds”and sinus type symptoms. Please ensure that instructions are read carefully to ensure proper use (use boiled or distilled water in their prepration).  

Decongestants: Shrink swollen membranes in the nose to reduce stuffiness. Although helpful for a short while (less than 2 days use) these sprays are addictive and are cautioned not to use beyond a few days.

Prescription medications:

Epinephrine: Used to treat life-threatening anaphylaxis. Administer within minutes of the first symptoms of anaphylaxis and then immediately call 911.

Corticosteroids type medications: These are anti-inflammatory medications to help target and treat allergic inflammation. They are available in nasal, inhalant puffer, and topical preparations (creams and ointments). In more severe cases, they can be given orally to help reverse an allergic reaction.

Immunotherapy (IT): Immunotherapy is a preventative treatment for allergic reactions. By injecting increasing doses of allergen, the immune system becomes less sensitive or desensitized to the allergen. As a result, the patient experiences a reduction in the severity of allergic symptoms.

The most common forms of Immunotherapy available are oral immunotherapy (ingestion of the allergen), subcutaneous immunotherapy (injection of the allergen), and sublingual immunotherapy (allergen held under the tongue). Upcoming forms of immunotherapy include peptide immunotherapy, B cell peptide immunotherapy, environmental exposure chamber, and intralymphatic immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy is available at our office, for more information please visit our Immunotherapy/Injections page.

Biologic therapy: Biologics are drugs that are manufactured with the assistance of a living system such as humans, animal, plant, fungi, or microbials. This differs from conventional drugs which are entirely chemically synthesized.

Omalizumab is an example of a biologic used to treat allergic asthma. Omalizumab contains an antibody targeted against IgE. By binding to IgE, omalizumab prevents IgE from binding to mast cells, thereby reducing the release of histamine and the allergic symptoms associated with histamine release. Omalizumab has been successful in improving asthma control, reducing the need for inhaled corticosteroid, and reducing the frequency of asthma exacerbations in patients with severe allergic asthma who are unresponsive to high dose corticosteroids.  

Treatment of Allergies




Insect Stings

Medical devices

I.e. Latex…

Personal Care Products

I.e. Soaps…


Runny nose


Itchy water eyes





Abdominal pain


Nasal congestion





Shortness of breath