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Get answers to your frequently asked questions

What is an allergy?

The word allergy is derived from the Greek word allegros , which means an unusual or altered reaction. About 15 to 20 percent of the United States population develops this unusual reaction to pollen, molds, house dust, animal danders and chemicals. This happens because of a biological tendency of the immune (defense) system of the body to overreact to these otherwise harmless substances. The body is "overreacting" in an attempt to expel (runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing) substances that it perceives as harmful. This tendency frequently runs in the family.

How are allergies treated?

Because allergies are determined by your genes, there is no complete cure for allergies, but they are controllable with modern treatments. There is no need to suffer from allergy symptoms.

There are three modes of treatment for allergy:

  1. Avoidance of allergy-causing agents (e.g., pet dander)
    This is a very important part of controlling allergies.
  2. Medications
    Very effective medications, with relatively minor side effects, are available to control allergies.
  3. Immunotherapy
    1. Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (allergy shots). Allergy injections are given just under the skin (subcutaneous).
      Allergy shots are given only when complete avoidance is not possible (e.g., pollen, molds, house dust, animal danders and insect venoms) and medications do not completely control symptoms. Allergy shots treat the cause of the disease by modifying the body's response at the molecular level to resemble a non-allergic state. Medications generally control the body's response (and therefore symptoms) but do not prevent the response, and therefore are not a substitute for injections. Medications and injections are complimentary to each other.
      Subcutaneous immunotherapy is well tried, standard treatment, used for well over hundred years and virtually all insurances pay for it.
    2. Sublingual Immunotherapy (no shots): under the tongue drops or tablets are available, for some but not all allergy causing things, as an alternative to allergy shots. But, at present it is not an FDA approved therapy therefore insurances do not pay for it. Patient has to pay for it out of his/her pocket.
      FDA approval is expected as soon as 2014.
      Sublingual immunotherapy is a relatively new form of treatment.
      Ask us for details.

To get the maximum relief from symptoms, patients often need more than one type of treatment. A single mode of treatment is likely to lead to incomplete relief.

Why have allergy shots when very effective medications are available?

Allergy shots have the following major advantages over medication:  

  • Shots restore the defense system of the body, at the molecular level, to resemble people without allergies.
  • Shots prevent the development of new allergies.
  • Shots prevent the development of asthma in persons with allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
  • The benefit of shots lasts even after they are discontinued.

Medications do not have any of the above benefits. Medications help you as long as you keep taking them regularly (usually each day) but the benefits from medications stop when you stop taking them. Because allergies are a chronic (i.e. long lasting) problem, most patients have to take medications for a long time.


What is an allergist?

An allergist is a physician specially trained to manage and treat allergies and asthma. Becoming an allergist/immunologist requires completion of at least nine years of training: 
     Medical School (4 years)
     Residency in Internal Medicine or Pediatrics (3 years)
     Fellowship (specialized training) in Allergy and Immunology (2 years)

Sudip N. Ringwala, DO has an Internal Medicine background and completed his Fellowship in Allergy & Immunology in Florida. 

Kulwant S. Dhaliwal, MD has an Internal Medicine background and completed his Fellowship in Allergy & Immunology in Wisconsin.