Allergy FAQ

Allergy FAQ's

1Am I allergic to insects/venoms?

At Hawthorne Clinic, we can test for allergies to the following insects/venoms:

  • Black ant
  • Bumble bee
  • American cockroach
  • German cockroach
  • Fire ant
  • Flea, cat/dog mix
  • Deer fly
  • Horse fly
  • Honeybee
  • Mosquito
  • Paper wasp
  • White-faced hornet
  • Yellow hornet
  • Yellow jacket/ common wasp
2Can a person be cured of an allergy?

Allergies cannot be cured but allergy symptoms they cause can be treated and controlled. This may require making changes in your environment or behavior to avoid or reduce your exposure to certain allergens. Medication also may help relieve symptoms of an allergic reaction. Even with allergy treatment, your body's immune system may continue to react when exposed to allergens. In some cases, however, children may outgrow their allergies, particularly those to food.

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, is not a cure. Rather, the shots are a way to significantly lessen the symptoms caused by exposure to specific substances.

3Can I take my shots home and give them to myself or can my friend/spouse give me the injections?

Our policy does not allow you to take your injections out of the office until you reach your maintenance level, provided you are not having any problems. At that point, you must take the class that we offer to instruct you how to properly give your injection, how to pull up the different dosages in a syringe, etc. You must also have a current Epipen/Twinject (dual pack). We can let you take the serum to another doctor’s office for them to administer the injections prior to reaching maintenance level if it is difficult to come to our office. This would be efficient if you live out of town or if our current hours do not work well for you.

4Causes of Nasal Allergies and How to Control Them

Nasal allergies are most commonly caused by one or more of four kinds of allergens: pollen (which causes seasonal allergies), house-dust mites, mold and animals (which cause nasal allergies). Other substances, called irritants, can bother the nose and make allergy symptoms worse. Example of irritants include cigarette smoke, perfume, aerosol sprays, smoke from wood stoves or fireplaces, car exhaust and other strong odors.

5Common Allegies: Mold

Mold reproduces by sending tiny spores into the air. If these spores are breathed in, they can cause a nasal allergic reaction. Mold tends to grow in bathrooms, basements, in the soil of houseplants, old books, old magazines, aquariums, damp shoes, rugs in bathrooms, garbage pails and window sills. To control mold growth, drain wet areas of your yard and clean up leaves and weeds before they begin to rot; clean the bathroom regularly with bleach; fix leaky faucets or roof leaks; leave window open or fan on while showering to let moisture escape; encase pillows and mattresses and use dehumidifiers if your house is damp.

6Common Allergies: Animals
Pets such as cats, dogs, birds, horses and rabbits are common causes of nasal allergies. Flakes of skin (dander), saliva left on fur when an animal cleans itself, urine in litter boxes and cages and feathers on birds can all cause nasal allergies. Control pet allergies by keeping your pet outdoors or out of your bedroom, use an air-cleaner with a HEPA filter, washing your hands after you touch your pet, bathing your pet weekly to cut down on the allergens they produce.
7Common Allergies: Food

Food allergies are very common. A food allergy is an abnormal response to food that is triggered by a specific reaction in the immune system and expressed by certain symptoms. Many people think that they have a food allergy which in all actuality they only have a food intolerance. Food intolerance is far more prevalent, occurs in a variety of diseases, and is triggered by several different mechanisms that are distinct from the immunological reaction responsible for food allergy. There are 8 common foods that account for 90% of food allergic reactions. These foods include eggs, peanuts, milk, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.

8Common Allergies: House-Dust Mites

These bugs are too small to see but they can live in mattresses, blankets, stuffed toys, carpets and curtains. The droppings of these mites are a common cause of indoor nasal allergies. To control dust mite allergens, choose non-fabric upholstery like leather or vinyl, replace horizontal blinds with vertical blinds, have as little carpet as possible, wash your sheets, blankets and mattress pads in hot water every 1-2 weeks, removed dust-collectors (such as stuffed animals, knick knacks and wall-hangings) from the bedroom and vacuum and dust your home every week.

9Common Allergies: Insect Venom

Some people have high sensitivities to insect venom. It is an acquired trait. This trait is not present at the first exposure to the venom, but can occur during subsequent exposures. Insects are usually classified as having three main body segments, six legs and a pair of sensory antennae. Winged insect species have two sets of wings, such as bees, wasps, and mosquitoes. Other insects include fleas, lice and ants. Some allergic reactions to the venom of insects can be life threatening.

10Common Allergies: Latex

Latex allergy is an allergic reaction to substances in natural latex. Rubber gloves are the main source of allergic reactions, although latex is also used in other products such as medical devices. The cause of the allergy is unknown. About 10% of healthcare workers have some sort of latex allergy.

11Common Allergies: Pollen

Plants reproduce by moving tiny grains of pollen from plant to plant. Some pollen is carried by bees and some is blown by the wind. The wind-blown pollen is what causes nasal allergies. The amount of pollen in the air varies from season to season. Help control your exposure to pollen by checking the pollen counts daily and avoid spending time outdoors when counts are high; change your clothes after spending time outside and wash your hair before bed; stay indoors on windy days.

12Cross Reactive Foods
Mold Allergies
  • Alcoholic beverages, especially beer and wine
  • Beets
  • Buttermilk
  • Breads, especially coffee cakes, pumpernickel
  • Catsup, ketchup
  • Cheese, especially stored, aged, blue, cottage
  • Chile sauce
  • Cider and homemade root beer
  • Corned beef
  • Dried fruits, apricots, dates, figs, prunes, raisins
  • Frankfurters
  • Fish, pickled and smoked
  • Canned juices (use glass or plastic bottles)
  • Mayonnaise, sour cream
  • Meats, pickled and smoked sausage
  • Mushrooms, olives, pickles
  • Pizza most allergenic cross-reactive food for mold allergies
  • Relishes, salad, dressings, sauerkraut
  • Tomatoes, especially canned
  • Vinegar and foods containing vinegar
Dust and Dust Mite- Year Round Allergens
  • Oysters, crabs, scallops, lobster, shrimp, crawfish, peanuts and other tree nuts such as macadamia, almonds and pecans
Pecan Tree:

December - May Corn, banana, wheat and wheat products

Cedar Tree:

December - May Beef, baker's and brewer's yeast

Elm Tree:

December - May Milk, milk products, cooking mint

Oak Tree:

December - May Eggs, egg products, apples, chestnut

Cottonwood Tree:

December - May Lettuce

Timothy, Bahia, Bermuda, Johnson Grass:

May - September Grains such as bread, oatmeal & rice; apple, carrot, celery, cucumber, peas, beans and soy; cottonseed such as salad oils, some mayonnaise, also used in stores on fruit to keep them shiny, also found in commercial frying and baking items such as cakes, breads, fish, popcorn, potato chips and doughnuts.

Giant Ragweed:

July - 1st Winter Freeze Milk, cooking mint, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, cucumber, banana, and lettuce

Short Ragweed:

July - 1st Winter Freeze Wheat, wheat products, watermelon, cantaloupe, banana

Rough Marsh Elder Weed:

July - 1st Winter Freeze Wheat, wheat products

Lamb's Quarter Weed:

July - 1st Winter Freeze Corn, corn products, bananas

13Does stress affect allergies?

Stress is your body's response to conflict or situations, both internal and external, that interfere with the normal balance in your life. Virtually all of the body's systems, including the digestive system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, and immune system, make adjustments in response to stress. When you are feeling anxious or stressed, your body releases numerous hormones and other chemicals, including histamine. Histamine is a powerful chemical that can lead to allergy-like symptoms.

Stress does not cause allergies, but it can make an existing reaction worse by increasing the level of histamine in the bloodstream.

14How long after taking allergy shots will I notice improvements?

You may notice an improvement after completion of your first vial, approximately 10 injections. The more allergic the patient, the more time before improvement.

15How long does allergy testing take?

If you're having an allergy skin test, plan to spend about an hour for the entire appointment. For the scratch and intradermal skin tests, the allergen placement part of the test takes about 5 to 10 minutes. Then you will have to wait about 15 minutes to see how your skin reacts.

16How many shots will I have to take?

Quite a few. You will start getting shots once per week. You'll probably need to receive maintenance shots for 3 to 5 years. Then you may be able to stop having shots after the physician’s evaluation.

17I am allergic to pollens and some foods. What are the chances that my child will also have allergies?

Children typically react to allergies much like their adult parents. If both parents have a history of allergy, there is a 65% to 75% chance that the child will, too. Typical allergy symptoms in children appear as a thin, watery nasal drainage, sneezing, and watery eyes.

Allergy testing in children can be done by either skin testing or by a blood test (RAST). The good news is that many allergic children can be managed by a combination of nasal allergy sprays and oral antihistamines.

18I took shots years ago and they didn’t help me so I quit. Would it be different this time?

Methods of testing that are being used today have been perfected. Patients must be compliant with their weekly injections for it to be effective. Today caregivers are educating their patients with helpful information. When a patient has large reactions at the site of their dosage, their vials are remixed and dosages are decreased. Watching cross reactive foods near shot day will help. We consider current seasons, pollen counts and patient’s allergy levels when mixing their vials.

19What do I do if I have a reaction?

Call the office at 941.953.5050 x 715 otherwise the answering service will pick up and contact the doctor. If the site is red, itchy or swollen you may apply Benadryl spray or hydrocortisone cream at the site to relieve the symptom. Do not scratch the area. Ice can be applied to reduce any swelling. If you are having difficulty breathing, you should use an epipen or twinject. Any time you have a reaction you should notify your doctor so it can be documented in your chart.

20What does a pollen count mean?

A pollen count is the measure of the amount of pollen in the air. Pollen counts are commonly included in local weather reports and are usually reported for mold spores and three types of pollen: grasses, trees, and weeds. The count is reported as grains of pollen per square meter of air collected over 24 hours. This number represents the concentration of all the pollen in the air in a certain area at a specific time. The pollen count is translated into a corresponding level: absent, low, medium, or high.

In general, a "low" pollen count means that only people extremely sensitive to pollen will experience symptoms. A "medium" count means many people who are relatively sensitive to pollen will experience symptoms and a "high" count means most people with any sensitivity to pollen will experience symptoms.

Although the pollen count is an approximate value and fluctuates, it is useful as a general guide when you are trying to determine whether or not you should stay indoors to avoid pollen contact.

21What else can help ease my allergy symptoms?

In addition to immunotherapy, we offer classes to all patients to further educate them in areas of environmental control, cross-reactive foods and anaphylaxis. We also offer products to purchase for home use that will help reduce your allergy symptoms.

We often hear patients say, "I was on shots years ago and they didn't work," or "My friend was on shots and said they didn't help her." We get a lot of positive feedback from our patients and we contribute it to the amount of education we offer and we continually reiterate it to the patient, reminding them of what season we're in, what cross reactive foods to avoid and the daily pollen count.

22What is anaphylaxis shock?

Anaphylaxis is a sudden systemic--not restricted to a single area of the body-- allergic response. Anaphylaxis, which can lead to death if it is not quickly treated, occurs when large numbers of cells degranulate in a short period of time.