Allergies are fairly common, affecting nearly 1 out of every 5 Americans and are caused by an abnormal response of the body's immune system to a usually harmless substance found in the environment (Allergen) such as plant pollens, molds, dust mites, food and animal hair.

Allergy symptoms can vary with the season and type of allergen involved, and may include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes and nose. Year-round prolonged exposure usually produces nasal congestion (chronic stuffy nose). Allergies can cause many ear, nose, and throat conditions, including:

  • Ear infections
  • Sore throats
  • Sinus infections

For some allergy sufferers, symptoms may be seasonal, but for others they produce year-round discomfort. Symptom control is most successful when multiple approaches are used simultaneously to manage the allergy. They may include minimizing exposure to allergens, medications, and in some cases subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be recommended. Immunotherapy is a method of treating allergies by desensitizing individuals to allergens over time, in many cases with the goal that they be cured of their allergies.

There two types of allergy testing that our office uses to test you for allergies, skin test (prick) or blood test.

First, a screening "prick" test is performed on the skin of the forearm. A small amount of certain allergens is put into the skin by making a small indentation or "prick" on the surface of the skin. If you have allergies, a small amount of swelling, redness and itching occurs on the skin surface at the prick test site. Next, based on the results of the initial screening "prick" test, more sensitive "intradermal" tests may be done to further evaluate your allergies. The intradermal skin test is performed on the upper arm where a small amount of allergen is injected within the skin. The results of the intradermal test are measured and recorded several minutes after they are applied. After the skin testing is complete, you and your physician will discuss the results and develop a treatment plan.


Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shot, is used as a treatment for allergies. While other courses of allergy therapy, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids are used to treat allergies, immunotherapy is the only available treatment that can modify allergic disease by reducing sensitivity to allergens.

Each allergy shot contains a tiny amount of the specific substance or substances that trigger your allergic reactions. These are called allergens. Allergy shots contain just enough allergens to stimulate your immune system - but not enough to cause a full-blown allergic reaction.

Over time, your doctor increases the dose of allergens in each of your allergy shots. This helps get your body used to the allergens (desensitization). Your immune system builds up a tolerance to the allergens, causing your allergy symptoms to diminish over time.

Allergy shots may be a good treatment choice for you if:

  • Medications don't control your symptoms well, and you can't avoid the things that cause your allergic reactions
  • Allergy medications interact with other medications you need to take or cause bothersome side effects
  • You want to reduce your long-term use of allergy medication
  • You're allergic to insect stings