The Charlottesville and Waynesboro will be closed Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day. Thank you!
The Charlottesville office will be closed Monday, June 3 AND
The Waynesboro office will be closed Wednesday, June 5
due to physician vacation. Please mark your calendar.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Food reactions are common, but most are caused by a food intolerance rather than a food allergy. A food intolerance can cause sometimes cause similar symptoms as a food allergy, so people often confuse the two. Food allergies develop when the body's immune system has an abnormal reaction to one or more proteins in a food. Food allergies can lead to serious or even life-threatening allergic reactions. Other food reactions are not caused by the immune system, these are intolerances. A food intolerance response takes place in the digestive system. It occurs when you are unable to properly breakdown the food. This could be due to enzyme deficiencies, sensitivity to food additives or reactions to naturally occurring chemicals in foods. Often, people can eat small amounts of the food without causing problems. These reactions cause unpleasant symptoms and are far more common than food allergies. Examples include lactose intolerance, heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux), bacterial food poisoning and sensitivity to caffeine. In contrast to allergy, food intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and are limited to digestive problems. One significant exception to this is gluten sensitivity that has been reported to lead to many varied symptoms.
Although 20-30% of people report food allergies, only 6-8% of children and 3-4% of adults have true food allergy. The most common foods causing allergy are cow’s milk, egg, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. In people with food allergies symptoms typically occurs quickly, within minutes to two hours after eating. The most common symptoms of food allergy include hives, swelling, itching, nasal congestion/drainage, wheezing, shortness of breath, throat tightness, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fainting or a sense of impending doom.
Food intolerance symptoms generally come on gradually, may only happen when you eat a lot of the food, may only happen if you eat the food often and are usually not life-threatening. Symptoms can include nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating/cramps, heartburn, headache or irritability. Individuals affected by food intolerance may also be able to take steps that help prevent a reaction. For example, if someone has lactose intolerance, he/she may be able to drink lactose-free milk or take lactase enzyme pills that aid digestion (such as Lactaid).
In order to diagnose either an allergy or intolerance a complete and detailed medical history is essential for initiating the proper work up. Specific skin and blood testing gives providers added information on determining the likelihood of true food allergy, unfortunately there are no skin or blood tests to diagnose food intolerance. The gold standard test for food allergy is the oral food challenge, where the food is ingested by the patient in a controlled setting (clinic or hospital in most cases) to monitor for reaction. Since the timing and nature of symptoms from intolerance reactions vary widely, oral challenges are only sometimes useful for diagnosing this disease. Patient trial and error in terms of dietary exclusion is usually the most practical method of both diagnosing and treating food intolerance.
For both food allergy and intolerance, the best treatment is to avoid the food. For true allergy, the most important aspect of the treatment plan is to have emergency medications available at all times in case of an allergic reaction. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, timely administration of self-injectable adrenaline is the cornerstone of treatment.
Dr. Ananth Thyagarajan (Dr. T.) in our Richmond office
Due to snow and hazardous driving for Monday, March 25, 2013:
The Waynesboro office will be at least be opening two hours late (10:30). We may need to postpone opening even later in the day or close the clinic. Please call ahead before leaving for your visit or check here for updates. Waynesboro (540) 949 5154, Charlottesville (434) 951 2191.
The Charlottesville office is planning on opening one hour late (9:00) but employees MAY be there earlier due to grace period. Please call ahead before leaving (434) 951 2191 if you have a morning appointment or are planning to come in for an morning allergy shot.
Due to snow and hazardous driving for the Monday, March 25, 2013:
The Waynesboro office will be at least be opening two hours late (10:30). We may need to postpone opening even later in the day or close the clinic. Please call ahead before leaving for your visit or check here for updates. Wayesboro (540) 949 5154.
The Charlottesville office MAY be opening late. Please check here for updates in the morning or call ahead before leaving (434) 951 2191. If you get an inclement weather message after 8:00, we are at least opening late.
Currently, our Pantops office will open on time, but we will make a final decision early tomorrow morning and update our website and facebook page.
Currently, our Waynesboro office will have delayed opening at 10 am, but we will make a final decision in the morning and update our webiste and facebook page.
Please call our office prior to leaving home.
Both of our offices, in Waynesboro and Charlottesville, will be closed tomorrow, March 6, due to inclement weather and physician illness.
We look forward to serving you on Thursday. Please call the office to check for office closing before coming out in bad weather.
School Holidays are an excellent time to be seen for Fall and Winter allergies.
Halloween Safety Tips
When kids are out collecting money and raising awareness through FAAN’s Trick-or-Treat for Food Allergy, safety must come first. Here are a few tips to help you keep your family members safe on Halloween:
- Have your trick-or-treater eat dinner before going out on Halloween night, so that he or she is not tempted by hunger to eat a treat!
- Make sure your child carries his or her medicines while trick-or-treating, in case a reaction occurs.
- Accompany your child trick-or-treating, or, if he or she is old enough to go without an adult, have him or her go with friends who know about his or her food allergy.
- If your child will collect candy on Halloween, have something ready to trade for the candy he or she can’t eat.
- Pass out nonfood items, such as Halloween stickers or small toys, to trick-or-treaters to promote food allergy awareness. Encourage your neighbors to do this as well.
Urticaria, or hives, is a common reason to see an allergist. It can be incredibly distressing to be covered with red welts, and the itching can disrupt sleep, school, and work. Hives appear quickly when special skin cells, called mast cells, are triggered to release chemicals that cause the rash.
Most cases of hives last only a short time and are triggered by allergic reactions, medications, or viral infections. Allergic reactions are possible to foods, bee stings, medications, or airborne substances. Hives can also be part of a severe, whole-body allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
In some people, the skin mast cells can react and cause hives due to pressure, cold, heat, vibration, and exposure to the sun or water. Dermatographism (Latin for “skin writing”) refers to hives that pop up for only minutes after a scratch or irritation to the skin.
It is also possible to have hives lasting for weeks or months. This “chronic urticaria” is usually not due to a particular trigger, but instead it can result from abnormal immune reactions involving the mast cell. The severity of chronic hives can be affected by factors such as stress, medications, temperature, and illnesses.
It is important to identify the cause of hives if possible, and the first step is a careful interview and physical exam with an experienced medical professional. Episodes of hives due to foods, bee stings, medications, or allergens can often be sorted out with allergy testing. A simple cause is not often found for chronic urticaria, but laboratory testing can help sort out any source of inflammation or infection that could lead to long-lasting hives.
Once the cause is determined, it is important to avoid the cause of your hives if possible. Hives usually respond to medications that block histamine -- the major chemical released by the mast cell. These “antihistamines” include the commonly used diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), but mild or ongoing cases of hives can also respond to longer-lasting and less sedating antihistamines, such as loratadine (Claritin®), cetirizine (Zyrtec®), or fexofenadine (Allegra®).
Under the care of an allergist, severe or persistent cases of urticaria can be treated with high dose antihistamines, the addition of other histamine blockers (ranitidine or similar drugs), or the temporary use of corticosteroids (such as prednisone). In severe cases of chronic urticaria, is it sometimes necessary to use other drugs that act on the immune system.
The physicians at Allergy Partners are experts in evaluating and treating the many possible causes of hives and allergic reactions. The evaluation begins with a careful interview and physical examination, followed by any necessary tests. These may include skin testing, which can be done during the initial visit if the patient is not taking antihistamines. For more information on Urticaria and skin testing, please visit our Patient Education page on our website or contact our office.