Allergy and Immunology

At Westchester Health, our Allergy and Immunology Department consists of board trained and certified physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Our mission is to deliver comprehensive, state-of-the-art allergy and immunology services that will enhance the quality of your life.

Our allergists and immunologists all have extensive experience in their field, using the latest technology and techniques to diagnose, treat and provide preventative care for all types of allergies and immune disorders, including asthma, food allergies, drug allergies, nasal allergies, hives and immune deficiencies.

Prevention as well as treatment

At Westchester Health, our focus is not only on the evaluation and treatment of allergy and immune system problems but also on preventative care.

In addition to providing the highest quality of allergic and immunologic care, our Allergy and Immunology group works closely with your primary care provider and other specialists to coordinate and implement a total treatment plan that is customized for your specific condition to achieve the best possible outcome. We also focus on educating you and your family about lifestyle changes you can make to control, improve or even eradicate your particular allergic or immunologic disorder.

What makes Westchester Health’s Allergy and Immunology Department different?

At Westchester Health, we firmly believe that good treatment starts with good listening. We also believe that the best patient is an informed patient, and that patient education is critical to your long-term health.

From the first time you arrive at our offices, we spend as much time with you and your family as is necessary to make sure you understand your condition, the diagnostic tests we are recommending and all of your treatment options. Throughout your journey with us, we will continue to explain our recommended course of treatment and answer any questions you may have so that you understand what to expect.

Whether you have been with Westchester Health for years or are new to our practice, you quickly recognize that our Allergy and Immunology group truly cares about each and every one of our patients. When you need us, we are here for you.

Always at the forefront of medicine

The world of medicine continues to change and evolve, especially regarding the treatment of allergies and immune disorders. As part of Northwell Health, our allergists and immunologists participate in its Department of Allergy training programs, making sure they are continually up-to-date on the newest breakthrough treatments for our patients’ allergic and immunologic conditions. This emphasis on ongoing training also ensures that our allergists and immunologists have ready access to the latest technological advances in allergic and immunologic diseases.

Pediatric Allergy and Immunology

To provide the highest quality of care to children with allergic and immunologic disorders, we have four pediatric allergy and immunology specialists on staff who are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and immune system deficiencies in children. These pediatric allergists and immunologists work closely with your child’s pediatrician and other specialists to coordinate and implement the best treatment plan for your child’s individual needs. To learn more, visit our Pediatric Allergy and Immunology page.

Allergists/immunologists have extensive expertise in treating a variety of allergic and autoimmune conditions, including:

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The most common anaphylactic reactions are to foods, insect stings and medications, and can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen. Exercise can be another trigger of anaphylaxis. In an anaphylactic episode, your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, severely restricting your breathing. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including an injection of epinephrine and a visit to a hospital emergency room. If not treated correctly and immediately, anaphylaxis can be fatal.

Angioedema (swelling)

Similar to hives, angioedema is an area of swelling, usually in the face, tongue, larynx, abdomen, or arms and legs. This condition is the result of an allergic reaction to certain food, medication, pollen, animal dander, latex, insect stings or emotional stress. Hereditary angioedema is another disease associated with facial and extremity swelling (as well as severe abdominal pain caused by intestinal swelling). This relatively rare condition can be diagnosed and treated, and is suspected when gastrointestinal pain is present but hives and itching are not. Signs of angioedema include swelling, redness, pain and/or warmth in the affected areas (usually the face, lips and hands and feet). To prevent angioedema, avoid triggers and take medication to prevent or reduce symptoms. 

Animal allergies

For many people, the proteins found in their pet's dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine cause an allergic reaction. Also, pet hair can collect pollen, mold spores and other allergens from the outdoors and bring them inside. An allergen is a normally harmless substance that triggers the immune system to overreact, causing symptoms such as sniffling, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. Solutions include removing carpeting and rugs, taking medication and keeping pets out of your bedroom.

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that causes the airways to become inflamed, making it hard to breathe and causing coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness. For many asthma sufferers, symptoms are brought on by triggers such as dust mites, animal dander, mold, pollen, smoke, bronchial infections and physical activity. Asthma is also associated with respiratory allergies, food allergies and eczema. The best way to manage asthma is to avoid triggers, anticipate exposures and start medication to prevent symptoms. Note: Treatment of an asthmatic episode (asthma attack) when it occurs is crucially important.

Drug allergies

If you develop a rash, hives or difficulty breathing after taking certain medications, you may have a drug allergy. As with other allergic reactions, symptoms occur when your body’s immune system becomes sensitized to a substance in the medication, perceives it as a foreign invader and releases chemicals to defend against it. Reactions to medications can range from mild to life-threatening, so if your symptoms are severe, seek medical help immediately.

Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is common in people with allergies and asthma, appearing as an itchy, red patch which typically shows up on the cheeks, elbows or around the knees. Treating the rash with lubricating lotions, ointments or creams usually improves the symptoms, but sometimes topical steroids are required.

Food allergies

If you have a food allergy, your immune system overreacts when it comes in contact with a particular protein found in that food, even if it’s only a tiny amount. An allergic reaction can occur in many areas of the body, including the skin, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system and respiratory tract. Food allergies can be life-threatening, so if you have one, you must be very careful to avoid triggers.

Hay fever/allergic rhinitis

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) develops when your immune system overreacts to something in the environment (usually pollens which in many areas are seasonal). The immune system responds by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause coughing, sneezing, a runny nose, and red, watery, itchy eyes. The best way to manage hay fever is to avoid triggers and take medication to prevent or reduce symptoms. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are typically prescribed for patients whose asthma is not well-controlled by medication, who live in an area with a long pollen season and/or who can’t tolerate medical therapy.

Hives (Urticaria)

Caused by an allergic reaction, hives (also known as urticaria) appear as small, red, itchy bumps or welts, which are often painful. Some common allergies that produce hives include nuts, eggs, dairy, shellfish, certain medications and viruses. Approximately 25-33% of patients with hives also have angioedema (see above). If you have hives and develop breathing trouble, such as coughing and/or wheezing, it might signal a more serious allergic reaction requiring immediate medical attention. Antihistamines are the standard treatment for hives. For chronic hives (lasting more than 6 weeks), there are new approved biologic medications (ex: Xolair) which is very effective.

Immune deficiencies

Immune deficiency disorders prevent your body from fighting infections and diseases, which makes it easier for you to catch viruses and bacterial infections. Symptoms of an immune deficiency include pinkeye, sinus infections, colds, diarrhea, pneumonia and yeast infections.

Insect allergies

When most people are stung by an insect, the sting site turns red, swells and itches. But if you’re allergic to insect stings, your immune system overreacts, producing a particular antibody (IgE). If you’re stung again by the same kind of insect, the venom interacts with this antibody, triggering an allergic reaction. For some people, insect stings can cause anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction which requires immediate medical attention. These sensitivities can be effectively treated with insect venom allergy shots (immunotherapy), the standard treatment for severe insect allergies.

Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths on the lining of the sinuses and nasal passages. They can develop when the mucous membrane of these areas are inflamed, typically for 12 weeks or more. Some of these growths can be large enough to block the nasal passages, which can lead to breathing problems, frequent sinus infections or loss of ability to smell.

Primary immune deficiency

Immune deficiencies are either congenital (hereditary) or acquired. A congenital, or primary, immune deficiency is one you were born with. An acquired, or secondary, immune deficiency is something that you develop at some point (AIDS/HIV, leukemia). There are more than 100 primary immune deficiencies, including X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA), common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) and severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), commonly called “boy in a bubble” disease.

Sinus allergies

Sinus allergies can produce many of the same symptoms as a sinus infection, including sinus pressure, runny nose and congestion. But a sinus allergy (allergic rhinitis) is caused by an allergic response to allergens such as pollen, dust mites or pet dander rather than by an infection.  The best way to manage sinus allergies is to avoid allergens and take allergy-specific medications.

Sinusitis

Sinusitis (sinus infection) occurs when the mucous membranes (linings of the sinuses) become inflamed. There are two types of sinusitis: acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis refers to a temporary inflammation of the sinuses lasting less than four weeks. Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed when symptoms have gone on for more than 12 weeks or occur more than three times in one year, despite medical treatment. The treatment of sinusitis depends on the cause, severity and duration of symptoms. 

 

To learn more, please read our blogs on these subjects.

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