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What is an allergy?

An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts abnormally (also known as an allergic reaction) to a foreign substance or allergen. Allergens may include:

  • Certain foods
  • Dander
  • Dust
  • Insect bites or stings
  • Medications
  • Mold
  • Pollen

Symptoms of allergies

Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe and can include:

  • Anaphylaxis (a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction)
  • Asthma (chest tightness, wheezing and difficulty breathing)
  • Eczema
  • Edema, or swelling, after a bug bite or sting
  • Itchy, irritated skin, rash or hives
  • Red, itchy or watery eyes
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Tingling of the mouth or swelling of lips, tongue, face or throat

Request a consultation

Is your little (or big) one struggling with allergies or asthma? Call us today to schedule a consultation at 800-275-6401.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic, or long-term, condition that causes the airways of the lungs to inflame, swell and produce extra mucus, making it difficult to breathe. Common asthma triggers may include: 

  • Allergens, like dander and pollen
  • Cold or dry air
  • Exercise or physical activity
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the tube that connects the mouth and stomach (esophagus)
  • Illness, such as a cold, flu or pneumonia
  • Strong emotions or stress
  • Strong odors or smoke

Symptoms of asthma

For some, asthma is a minor health issue. For others, it can be a major issue that interferes with daily activities and may cause life-threatening asthma attacks. Symptoms can vary and may include:

  • Coughing, often increased at night or after exercise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Wheezing, or a whistling sound while breathing

Diagnosing allergies and asthma

Our team of pediatric allergists and immunologists, or doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma and immune deficiency disorders, perform a range of tests to determine the type of allergy or asthma your child may have, as well as the severity. Asthma and allergy tests may include:
Skin prick or scratch test

Small amounts of certain allergens are placed into the skin by lightly pricking or scratching the outer layer of skin, to see which substance(s) cause an allergic reaction.
Patch testing

Allergens are placed on a patch, then adhered to your child’s arm or back. Patch testing takes longer, and patches are typically worn for about 48 hours to check for any delayed allergic reactions.
Blood marker tests

Your doctor may order a blood test to detect certain allergens your child may have a sensitivity to. Blood tests are also helpful in diagnosing food allergies.

This test is used to diagnose asthma and other conditions that affect breathing. Spirometry assesses how your child’s lungs work by measuring how much they inhale and exhale. It also may be used periodically to monitor your child’s lung condition.

Treatment for asthma and allergies

Our experienced team of pediatric allergy and immunology specialists will diagnose your child’s asthma or allergy and create a long-term, customized treatment plan focused on managing day-to-day symptoms.

When necessary, our pediatric allergy and asthma team will work with other pediatric specialists, including those specializing in pulmonology and respiratory disorders, to make sure your child receives the complete care they need. Depending on your child’s diagnosis, treatment options and services may include:

  • Biological medications (or medications that are developed from blood, proteins, viruses and living organisms) for severe asthma, hives or eczema
  • Education about environmental triggers and management techniques
  • In-office allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy)
  • Management of bee sting allergies, swelling disorders or severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) using medications like an EpiPen®
  • Management of eosinophilic esophagitis (chronic, allergic inflammatory disease of the esophagus)
  • Management of immunodeficiency disorders
  • Oral or topical medications, such as antihistamines or other prescription medications

Pediatric allergy and asthma care at Geisinger

From diagnosis to treatment and management of allergies or asthma, our specialists are dedicated to helping young lives thrive. We offer:

  • Personalized, compassionate care for children: From simple to complex conditions, our goal is to provide relief from allergy and asthma symptoms. With personalized treatment plans, we’re here to get your child back to the activities they love.
  • Excellent care in your neighborhood: With Janet Weis Children’s Hospital located in Danville and many pediatric offices (and specialists) throughout Pennsylvania, exceptional care for your child is never far from home.
  • Treatments powered by research: From minor to serious health issues, we strive to improve the health and lives of children. Through ongoing education, research and innovation, we’re here to evolve pediatric care — taking the latest research-based treatments to care for your child.