Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts or is triggered by a specific substance or allergen. Many allergies are caused by mold and pollen, but some children may be allergic to pet dander, dust mites, some types of detergents and personal care products, insect bites or even certain foods. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe and may include sneezing, coughing, runny nose or congestion, watery or itchy eyes, rashes and hives, and even a serious reaction that can interfere with breathing or swallowing, even increasing the risks for seizures or death.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes airway inflammation and an overproduction of mucus, both of which can make it more difficult to breathe normally. Asthma symptoms can become much worse when triggered by a substance, changes in temperature or strenuous physical activity. As the airways become irritated and inflamed, they constrict, making breathing more difficult and causing wheezing or hissing noises when breathing. Children who have asthma are also more likely to develop other types of respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia or flu.
Asthma is usually diagnosed by listening to the lungs for wheezing noises and by simple, in-office breathing tests that measure how well the lungs work normally and, sometimes, after an asthma medication is administered. Allergies can be diagnosed with testing that uses very small amounts of different allergens to determine which ones cause reactions. A physical examination, review of the child’s symptoms and a family medical history are also important for making a diagnosis of allergies and asthma.
Asthma is usually managed with a portable handheld device called an inhaler that dispenses precise doses of medication to relax and open the airways. More severe cases may require the use of a larger device called a nebulizer. Different types of medication can be prescribed based on the patient’s needs and symptoms. Allergies may be treated with medications to relieve specific symptoms or with immunotherapy that helps the child develop a tolerance for allergens over time.
Dr. Rivera accepts most major insurance plans. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call our office and one of our knowledgeable staff members would be glad to help.