Allergy & Immunology
Allergy Relief In WA and OR
Dr. Cassandra Mahan-Richards is a board-certified allergist-immunologist with more than 25 years of experience.
An allergist-immunologist is a physician specially trained in the management and treatment of asthma and other diseases related to allergies and the immune system. This specialty requires completion of at least nine years of training.
After earning a medical degree, a physician must then complete three years of training in internal medicine or pediatrics. Once trained in one of these specialties, the physician must then complete an additional two years of study, called a fellowship, in an allergy and immunology training program. Allergist-immunologists who are listed as ABAI-certified have successfully passed the certifying examination of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.
An allergy is a condition in which your immune system reacts abnormally to a given substance. You experience a local or systemic inflammatory response to an allergen such as pollen, food, drugs, or any number of environmental triggers.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include swelling of the nasal mucosa, itchy burning eyes, sneezing, wheezing, various skin rashes such as hives, or anaphylaxis, which is a potentially fatal reaction.
Skin testing is usually used to identify an allergy. It involves a series of tiny punctures made on the inside of your forearm or on your back where small amounts of suspected allergens and/or their extracts (pollen, dust, molds, food, drugs or venom protein) are introduced and marked with a pen.
If you are allergic to the substance, a visible inflammatory reaction will usually occur within 15-20 minutes. This is the most preferred means of testing due to its simplicity and accuracy.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness in which your airway constricts and becomes inflamed, often in response to one or more triggers. An asthma attack may be triggered by exposure to an allergen, cold, warm or moist air, exercise or exertion, or emotional stress.
Symptoms range from mild to life-threatening and include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Asthmatic episodes are often controlled with fast-acting bronchial inhalers.
Immunology is the study of all aspects of the immune system in all organisms. That includes the physiological functioning of the human immune system; malfunctions of the immune system caused by immunological disorders such as autoimmune disease; hypersensitivities; and immune deficiency.
Immunotherapy, also known as desensitization, is a course of treatment in which a patient is gradually vaccinated with progressively larger doses of the allergen that he or she is sensitive to. This will either eliminate the hypersensitivity or at least reduce its severity as the patient builds up immunity.