Services We Provide
- Adverse Reactions to Food, Drugs, and Latex
- Allergy Syndrome
- Allergic Conjunctivitis and Rhinitis
- Angiodema and Urticaria (Hives)
- Atopic Dermatitis/Eczema
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Chronic Otitis
- Environmental Allergies
- Food Allergies
- Immunotherapy (subcutaneous and oral), traditional and rapid programs
- Metal Hypersensitivity
- Nasal Polyposis
- Samter’s Syndrome
- Sinus Syndrome
- Drug Allergy Densensitization (e.g., to asprin)
- Flu Vaccine Desensitization
- Functional Immunity Testing
- Insect Venom Immunotherapy with rush program
- Lung Function Assessment (functional and biological)
- Metal Hypersensitivity Testing
- Oral Immunotherapy
- Peanut Anaphylaxis Oral Immunotherapy
Allergy & Allergens
Allergies are caused by abnormalities in a person’s immune system that causes it to respond to otherwise harmless compounds as if they are foreign and harmful substances. This response causes inflammation and swelling of specific cells in the body, leading to congested sinuses, hives, eczema, asthmatic attacks, and other allergic symptoms including fatigue and pain.
Allergen is a broad term used to describe compounds in dust, pollen, mold, animals, and food that can interact with the cells of peoples’ immune system and cause an allergic response. Because allergens come from different sources, not all allergens are the same. This partly explains why people with allergies are not necessarily allergic to everything and why different people can be allergic to different things.
People who have indoor pets often have great exposure to dander. We all love our pets. Unfortunately, the proteins found in a pet’s dander, skied flakes, saliva and urine may cause allergic reactions or aggravate asthma symptoms. It’s also no help that our furry friends carry pollen, mold, and other allergens all around our homes. Let us help you learn to strike a balance between your love for animals and maintaining a safe, happy, and healthy life.
- Lightweight pollens carried by air currents are easily inhaled and easily brought into contact with one’s nasal passages.
- In the early summer, grasses are common allergens.
- In the late summer and fall, ragweed and chenopods are common allergens.
Molds are common both inside and outside. Certain types of molds cause allergies and include alternaria, aspergilius, cladosporium, and penicillium.
Dust mites are tiny bugs living in your house, mattresses, pillows, carpets, and upholstered furniture. These tiny bugs usually feed on dead skin cells and thrive in warm, humid environments (e.g., your bed).
Dr. Pienkowski will carefully examine each person taking into consideration her current problems, family history, and environmental daily exposure. After this examination, Dr. Pienkowski may recommend a test for food and environmental allergens, a blood test, and/or a pulmonary function test with provoking compounds. Such a test is a diagnostic tool that assists in determining a specific course of treatment and therapeutic needs.
No two people are exactly alike and Dr. Pienkowski emphasizes that everybody deserves a comprehensive, individual assessment. Dr. Pienkowski believes that a specialist in allergy and immunology, neither a nurse practitioner, nor a nurse, should be responsible for the interpretation of your test and subsequent debriefing. While a nurse may assist with cleaning your back and applying allergens, a nurse or nurse practitioner does not have the clinical training to assess the results of your test.
Allergy Diagnosis & Symptoms
The first sign that a person has allergies is the experience of allergic symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, eyes, stomach or on the skin. In general, fatigue, muscle and joint pain are also allergic symptoms.
Ears – pain, popping and clogging
Eyes – watery, red, itchy eyes and/or dark discoloration beneath ones eyes.
Nose- congestion, running, sniffing, sneezing or a stinging sensation when treating.
Lungs- coughing, wheezing, feeling of tightness, mucus build up.
Throat- itchiness, lump-like sensation, tightness, difficulties swallowing.
Sinuses- pressure, stinging sensation with breathing.
Skin- hives, eczema, swelling of ligaments.
Stomach- abdominal pain, distension, constipation or diarrhea.
Dr. Pienkowski has performed and interpreted tens of thousands of these tests. Do not compromise: Come in and see us!
Allergy immunotherapy is a cost-effective treatment for people who suffer from allergic rhinitis, asthma, conjunctivitis, or stinging allergies. A patient who follows their treatment regimen will notice a marked decrease in many allergy symptoms. Our goal is to induce a complete allergic remission.
The purpose of immunotherapy is to immunize the patient, or make the patient’s body tolerant, to specific allergens that would normally cause the patient to experience allergic symptoms.
How is it done?
Immunization is achieved by subcutaneously injecting the patient with allergens that are known to cause an allergic reaction in the patient. At the beginning of the treatment, the patient receives an injection of allergens small enough not to cause an allergic response. The doses are then increased with each new injections until the patient’s immune system has become immunized to those allergens.
To start, patients receive injections twice a week, but after the initial phase patients receive injections once a week. In sequence the frequency of injections will decrease to once every two weeks, and then once a month.
After the once-a-month phase, the immunotherapy is typically complete and the patient will discontinue the treatment.
Specific Immunotherapy v. Nonspecific Immunotherapy
At Pienkowski, MD Clinic, the allergens used for a patient’s immunotherapy treatment are specifically chosen based on the results from the patient’s allergy test and their clinical history. That means every patient is injected with a specific, carefully-selected mixture of allergens to which they are allergic. Dr. Pienkowski notes that this method has less risk and is more effective that the conventional method in other allergy clinics.
The conventional method involves injecting patients with a generic mixture of allergens. Each patient receives the same mixture of allergens regardless of their response to certain ones. Although this method is cheaper, it runs the risk of making the patient allergic to certain allergens to which they were not previously allergic. In Dr. Pienkowski’s experience, the conventional method is less effective in treating a persons allergic symptoms.
Allergy Immunotherapy v. Allergy Medication
While the use of prescribed or over-the-counter medication to relieve allergy symptoms is effective and worthwhile in certain circumstances, allergy medications do not help treat the underlying cause of allergic abnormalities.
Medications interact with the chemicals released by immune cells after exposure to an allergen in order to stop those chemicals from causing an allergic response.
In contrast, immunotherapy makes immune cells tolerate specific allergens so that no chemicals are released from those cells to start with.
Asthma is a complex disease of the lungs. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma. Ninety percent of children and at least 50% of adults suffer from allergic asthma. An asthmatic’s airways are especially sensitive to allergens and other airborne irritants.
When an asthmatic person is exposed to allergens and irritants, the lining of the airways may become inflamed and narrow. The airways may further narrow as the muscles surrounding the airways spasm, or rapidly decrease in size. Infections, exercise, hormones, medication, and your body’s natural reflexes may exacerbate a person’s asthma.
In response to the inflammation, a person’s body will produce mucus. The mucus will clog airways and restrict the flow of air. This occurrence is what most people know as an “asthma attack.”
A drug allergy is an allergic reaction to medication. Almost any medication can cause an allergic reaction. Common ones include the following: Penicillin, Sufonamides, Local anesthetics and X-ray dyes that contain iodine.
Common symptoms of a drug allergy include swelling around the mouth, hives, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe reactions including anaphylaxis are also possible.
No all unpleasant reactions with food are “food allergies”. A food allergy is a reaction triggered by a person’s immune system. Many people suffer from food intolerance, which are unpleasant but do not involve the immune system.
Dr. Pienkowski treats people for both food allergies and intolerances. For example, “lactose intolerance” is not an allergy because it does not involve the immune system but results in bloating, cramping, nausea and diarrhea.
Common immediate symptoms of food allergies include:
Hives, Eczema, Swelling, Itchiness, Tingling of the mouth, Metallic tastes, Coughing, Wheezing, Trouble breathing, Throat tightness, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Weight loss and Cramping.
Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis. People with eczema may have a red itchy rash or dry scaly skin. Eczematous flare-ups commonly occur when people eat something to which they are allergic or sensitive to.
Although eczema cannot be cured, the single best treatment is avoidance of allergens. Remember, eczema on your skin is only an outward sign of what is happening on the inside of your body, so the condition is far from cosmetic.
Hives are non-contagious and present as itchy, red, swollen areas on your skin. Hive may pass quickly or last for several weeks (chronic urticaria). Common causes of hives include the following:
- Allergies to food, additives or drugs.
- Autoimmune disorders
- Contact with chemicals
- Exercise and stress
Discover answers to our patients most frequently asked questions here.