Allergies, asthma, COPD, and chronic coughs are complex, ongoing conditions that require constant upkeep. In some cases, advanced treatment may also be necessary.

The immunology specialists at Premier Medical Associates have the knowledge and expertise to provide the relief you deserve. In addition to specific treatments, our team can help you adjust your lifestyle to accommodate your condition. Our team is also equipped to consult and recommend any necessary testing to ensure you have an accurate diagnosis. If you’re ready to find relief from asthma, allergies and more, schedule an appointment with us today.

Premier Medical Associates, an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network, is the largest multi-specialty physician practice in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Adult and pediatric-age patients who need allergy and asthma care can be seen by Dr. Robert Otte in our Penn Hills and North Versailles locations.

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FAQs on Allergy & Immunology:

Allergies

What Is An Allergy?

An allergic reaction is actually a result of your body trying to protect you. Your immune system was built to attack foreign substances that might cause you harm, such as disease-causing bacteria. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes a harmless allergen (i.e. any substance that causes an allergic reaction) for something dangerous, triggering a response that causes symptoms to appear.

What Are The Most Common Allergies?

Just about anything can be an allergen; but these are some of the most common allergies and reactions we see at Premier Medical Associates:

  • Medication allergies - especially cases associated with penicillin, over-the-counter pain relievers, medication for autoimmune diseases, and chemotherapy drugs.
  • Contact dermatitis - which occurs in the form of a rash when you make skin contact with an allergen.
  • Latex allergies - a very common reaction to the compounds in natural rubber latex that shows symptoms within minutes of exposure.
  • Environmental allergies - including seasonal allergies to grass, weeds, and pollen. Indoor allergens, especially mold, can also trigger reactions.
  • Animal allergies - which can be a reaction to a particular animal’s saliva, urine or skin cells (dander).
  • Food allergies - especially to peanuts or other types of nuts, which can have symptoms that range from uncomfortable to dangerous.

How Can You Diagnose My Allergy?

There are a few different types of tests we perform at Premier Medical Associates to determine if you have an allergy. Your allergist may take a blood test, or we may perform a skin test during which you will be exposed to tiny amounts of the allergen and observed for a reaction. Once we reach a diagnosis, we’ll discuss with you how to move forward. While we often recommend that patients with allergies avoid the allergen altogether, we understand that sometimes this is not possible. If this is your situation, we can begin developing a plan for effectively managing your symptoms.

Are Allergies Dangerous?

Allergy symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening. The most dangerous allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, during which your airway will swell so severely you will have difficulty breathing and can suffocate. With this possibility in mind, it’s important for adults and parents of children to make an appointment with an allergy specialist quickly after observing any symptoms of an allergy so the appropriate lifestyle changes can be made. If you believe you are observing someone in anaphylactic shock, call 911 immediately.

Asthma

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition that causes chronic inflammation in the airways. As this inflammation causes swelling and narrowing of the airways, patients find themselves struggling to breathe. In many patients, specific triggers make this inflammation even worse than normal, causing an “asthma attack”. During an attack, breathing becomes difficult and you may cough, wheeze, or feel tightness in your chest.

What Triggers The Symptoms Of Asthma?

Each individual case of asthma is different, and the factors that trigger people’s symptoms are no exception. Here are some of the most common types of asthma as defined by their triggers:

  • Exercise-induced asthma, also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), occurs when physical activity triggers asthma symptoms.
  • Allergic asthma refers to the common combination of allergies and asthma in which one triggers symptoms of the other. This type of asthma is hereditary.
  • Childhood asthma occurs when symptoms of asthma appear in early childhood. A child with a chronic cough may be showing symptoms of asthma.

Does My Child Have Asthma?

Childhood asthma is extremely common, and children with asthma usually begin showing symptoms before the age of five. If you live with severe allergies or asthma, your child is at a higher risk of developing asthma as well. It’s important for all parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of asthma (coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing) so that a treatment and lifestyle plan can be set in place as early as possible. If you’re looking for pediatric asthma care, we can help: Dr. Otte at Premier Medical Associates is experienced in providing asthma care for both adults and children.

What Is The Best Treatment For Asthma?

While asthma is a chronic condition without a “cure,” an accurate diagnosis can be your gateway to taking control of your asthma symptoms. The allergists and immunologists at Premier Medical Associates can deliver that diagnosis and help you develop a plan that will likely include carrying an inhaler and avoiding your triggers when possible.

COPD

What Does COPD Stand For?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This name refers to the fact that when someone suffers from this ailment, chronic inflammation of their lungs leads to obstructed airflow and difficulty breathing. This can often lead to symptoms such as chronic coughing and wheezing, as well as an excess of mucus in the throat.

What Are The Causes Of COPD?

COPD occurs as a culmination of damage caused to the lungs by various irritants, the most common of which is cigarette smoke. Constant exposure to these irritants leads to conditions like chronic bronchitis (chronic inflammation of your bronchial lining) and emphysema (the tiny air sacs at the end of your lungs are destroyed by constant damage), which further batter your lungs and become more severe over time.

Will I Always Have COPD?

Unfortunately, COPD is a chronic condition. Once your lungs have sustained enough damage for symptoms to appear, that damage is irreversible. In fact, without treatment, your symptoms can worsen over time, and your risk of associated conditions like heart disease and lung cancer will increase.

Can You Treat My COPD Symptoms?

Absolutely. COPD treatment is available, and managing your symptoms can lead to a better quality of life and decreased risk of life-threatening associated conditions. The sooner you begin treatment, the better! The immunology specialists at Premier Medical Associates are happy to help you develop a personalized plan.

What Should I Expect From A Visit With Your Team?

Patients experiencing various breathing problems will receive specialized care at Premier. Asthma, COPD, and chronic coughs often require advanced treatment and ongoing health management. With this in mind, our team will recommend any necessary testing to diagnose your specific ailment. Based on your results, we will then recommend treatment options, including at-home treatment, lifestyle adjustments, and medical interventions.

Adult and pediatric-age patients can receive asthma and allergy care from Dr. Robert Otte in our Penn Hills and North Versailles locations. Other breathing-related conditions will be referred to the proper specialist as needed.