Jefferson University Hospitals

Frequently Asked Questions

If one or both parents have allergies, does that mean the child will have allergies too?

Genes do play a role in allergies. A child cannot inherit a specific allergy, but he or she can inherit the tendency to have allergies. If one parent has allergies, there is a 50% chance the child will have allergies; the chance increases to 75% if both parents have allergies.

Who is at the most risk of having allergies?

People who have a family history of asthma or allergies, children (more than adults) and adults who had childhood allergies.

What are the most common skin contact allergies?

Poisonous plants, animal scratches, latex, bee or wasp stings, dust mites and pollen.

What are the most common food allergies?

Peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, wheat, soy, eggs and milk.

What are the most common inhaled allergies?

Pollen, dust, mold, mildew and animal danger.

What are the most common allergies to medicine?

Penicillin and penicillin-based antibiotics.

How does immunotherapy “allergy shots” work?

Allergy shots desensitize your body’s immune system to an allergen with a gradual increase in exposure to a specific allergen. Each dose is slightly larger or more potent than the last does until a maximum dose is reached.

Can children outgrow an allergy?

Yes. Many children cease reacting to certain allergens as they age, with or without the assistance of medical intervention.

Can adults develop allergies?

Yes. Adults can get develop allergic reactions to substances, even if they showed no prior sensitivity to that substance. The allergy may appear quite suddenly, last for a few weeks, months or years, and disappear just as quickly.

Can exposure to allergens actually prevent some allergies?

There is evidence supporting the hypothesis that being exposed to certain environmental substances in the first year of life (e.g. animal dander and pollen) may prevent some allergies. This stems from the observation that infants who live on farms have fewer allergies than infants raised in more sterile environments.

What are food allergy symptoms?

Tingling mouth; swollen lips, tongue, face or throat; hives; and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

What are insect sting allergy symptoms?

Swelling at the sting site; itching or hives on the entire body; shortness of breath; and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

What are drug allergy symptoms?

Hives, itchy skin and rashes; facial swelling and redness; wheezing; and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

Is hay fever an allergy?

Yes. Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to airborne substances, such as pollen - unlike a cold which is caused by a virus.

Is eczema an allergy?

Yes. Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is an allergic condition that may cause skin itching, redness, flaking or peeling.

How does the comprehensive approach work for specific illnesses?

Here are some examples:

A patient with allergies, for instance, who is taking conventional medicines to reduce acute symptoms, may also benefit from the elimination of certain trigger foods and the addition of specific nutritional or herbal medicines to balance the immune system.

A patient with fibromyalgia (an autoimmune condition involving chronic muscle pain and fatigue) may benefit from movement therapy to reduce discomfort. There are also often unsuspected underlying causes for pain that a detailed holistic evaluation can uncover.

A patient with irritable bowel syndrome may benefit from both conventional and botanical medicines as well as mindfulness meditation that all work together to relieve intestinal cramps and improve digestion.

A woman seeking menopause counseling may benefit from herbs and other appropriate therapies to ease hot flashes and also learn to modify her diet and exercise to prevent bone loss, heart disease and other postmenopausal conditions.

Can I come to the Institute if I already have a specialist?

Yes. In fact many patients with allergies, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and other chronic conditions are referred to us by their physician. We offer a perspective that augments the care that you’ve already received. Our aim is to help you feel better while adding value to your total patient care.

How can patients with cancer benefit from the Institute?

Our staff is trained in a wide range of supportive, complementary therapies that can help to sustain and strengthen the overall health of a person with cancer. Some therapies may help to enhance general immune function. Other therapies are very useful in reducing symptoms such as pain, nausea and anxiety. We incorporate mind/body therapies (including meditation, supportive psychotherapy, yoga and imagery work), nutritional counseling and diet modification, massage therapy, acupuncture and selected herbal and homeopathic medicines. We work closely with you and your doctor to find a program that is beneficial for you.