Frequently Asked Questions

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Allergy Visit:

Allergy

How long will the visit be?

A visit for a new patient could take up to 2 hours depending on the complexity of the problem. Most visits for returning patients will be less than an hour. If testing is done, more time is needed.

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May other family members accompany to the visit?

Yes, it is encouraged to have more than one adult at the visit to assist in caring for the patient during the history-taking and reviewing the recommendations.

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Allergy Testing:

Allergy Testing

Does allergy testing use needles?

Yes and no: Allergy testing is done with small plastic devices that scratch the skin. A positive test will look and feel like a mosquito bite minutes after the test is placed. After the test area is washed off, cream is applied and the skin reactions are typically gone within 1 hour. Occasionally testing with small needles is done for adults and in special circumstances such as penicillin and bee sting testing.

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Do I have to have allergy skin testing?

No, the decision on testing will be made after consulting with Dr. Zacharisen to determine whether it is necessary.

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Where are allergy tests placed?

Testing is done on the middle of the back, but on occasion will take place on the forearms of adults. It will not be placed on skin that is sunburned or where there is a rash.

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Is there an alternative to skin testing for allergies?

Yes, a blood test can be done. It may take a week to have the results and may be less accurate in identifying some allergies.

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Do I need to stop medications before skin testing?

Yes and no: antihistamines need to be stopped at least 4 days before skin testing. Antihistamines include Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, and most cough and cold preparations. Some anti-depression medications may interfere as well. You may continue to take your asthma inhalers, nasal corticosteroid sprays and other medications for other medical problems.

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Are there conditions that would prevent me from having allergy skin testing done?

Yes, if you are having an asthma attack, pregnant, on a beta-blocker type medication or ill with a fever, allergy testing will not be done that day.

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What can I be allergy skin tested for?

Pollens, dust, mold, animal dander, foods, Penicillin antibiotic, local anesthetics, vaccine, bees and other stinging insects.

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What can’t I be tested for?

a. There is no reliable skin or blood test for antibiotics except Penicillin.
b. There is no reliable test for for MSG (monosodium glutamate), food dyes, or preservatives.
c. Testing for mosquito, ants and other common bugs is not performed.

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How old do you have to be for skin testing?

There is no age required for testing. More important is choosing the proper tests depending on the likely allergic trigger for a specific age.

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Allergy Injections (allergen immunotherapy):

Allergy Injections

If I have allergies, do I have to have allergy injections?

No, many people can manage their allergies by avoiding what they are allergic to and/or by taking medications.

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Asthma:

Asthma

Can you be too young or too old to have asthma?

No, there is no age requirement to have the diagnosis of asthma.

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How do you get asthma?

It is unclear why persons develop asthma. Asthma is more common in children born prematurely, exposed to cigarette smoke, and those with allergies.

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Are asthma and allergies linked?

Yes, most children with asthma will have allergies. About half of adults with asthma will have allergies. It’s important to evaluate them together.

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Can asthma be cured?

No, but it can be controlled so that it doesn’t interfere with exercise, sleep or other daily activities.

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Can cough be the only symptom of asthma?

Yes, cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness are the main symptoms of asthma. You don’t have to have all 4 to have asthma.

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