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
- Insect bites or stings
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)
- 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
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 asthmaOur 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:
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.