Understanding Allergies & Immunology
Barnes-Jewish Hospital maintains one of the leading allergy and immunology services in the country. Patients are evaluated for:
- Allergic Rhininitis
A collection of symptoms that occur after a person is exposed to airborne pollens. In the St. Louis area, seasonal symptoms are the result of tree pollen in the early to mid-spring, grass pollen in the late spring and early summer and weed pollen (largely ragweed) in the fall. This disease is commonly known as hay fever. Many allergy sufferers have year-round symptoms (called perennial allergic rhinitis). This disease is the result of allergic sensitivity to house dust mites, mold spores and pets.
- Allergic Conjunctivitis
A reaction to the introduction of materials to the eye (pollen, dander, etc.) to which a person is allergic. Reddening of the eyes develops quickly and is accompanied by itching and tearing. Many patients with allergic rhinitis will also have eye symptoms.
- Sinusitis/Nasal Polyps
The inflammation of the allergic reaction in the nose may lead to blockage of the sinus and ultimately to sinus infections. Sinusitis may be acute, lasting less than a month, or chronic. Sinusitis has its own localized pain signals, depending upon the particular sinus affected. Treatment is directed toward the underlying cause as well as the infectious process. Adults who have had allergic rhinitis and allergic sinusitis may develop nasal polyps. These are growths that begin in the lining of the nose and project into the nasal cavity. When nasal polyps become large enough, they may hinder breathing through the nose and may lead to sinusitis. Medical treatment to decrease the size of the polyps is often successful. However, surgical removal of these polyps may be necessary.
A condition often known as hives, can be a particularly troublesome problem. Treatment for both acute (less than 6 weeks in duration) and chronic urticaria is available. In many cases, the hives are the result of contact with a substance to which the patient is allergic. In other patients, an autoimmune condition may be the cause of the condition. Diagnosis is directed towards discovering the allergen to which the patient is sensitive or to the demonstration that the urticaria sufferer has a specific reaction against himself or herself. Treatment is with allergen avoidance or specific drugs that prevent the release of the chemicals that cause the hives or block the action of the chemicals that are released into the skin.
- Vocal Cord Dysfunction
It has been recognized that some patients have improper movement of their vocal cords during inspiration. This results in signs and symptoms that mimic asthma. Observing the improper movement of the vocal cords using a thin tube called a rhinoscope makes the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made, therapy by a speech pathologist can often correct this condition.
Treatment Approach to Allergy & Immunology
Barnes-Jewish Hospital offers a comprehensive program for the treatment of allergies. Participants can receive evaluation and care at two convenient locations, the Jacqueline Maritz Lung Center located at Barnes-Jewish Hospital or the Asthma Center in west St. Louis County.
The Jacqueline Maritz Lung Center, located at the Center for Advanced Medicine, is staffed by a team of pulmonary and allergy specialists, many of whom have national and worldwide reputations. Asthma nurse-specialists, allergy technicians and pulmonary function technicians assist the physicians. This team evaluates patients using sophisticated equipment for pulmonary function testing and allergy skin testing.
The Lung Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of:
- seasonal and year-round allergic rhinitis
- allergic conjunctivitis
- acute and chronic sinusitis
- chronic urticaria.
Lung Center physicians use the latest medications, drugs and procedures currently in clinical trial. Asthma education, self-management techniques and environmental control measures are key components of the program.
The Asthma Center is a 4,500-square-foot facility located in Building #1 on the Campus of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital at the corner of Mason Road and Olive Street Boulevard in west St. Louis County. Established in 1989, the center is staffed by full-time faculty from the allergy and pulmonary divisions of the Department of Medicine. Nurse specialists, a certified pulmonary function technician, a social worker and a speech therapist complete the Asthma Center Staff.
The Asthma Center performs complete medical evaluations for asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis, acute and chronic sinusitis and chronic urticaria. Comprehensive pulmonary function testing using modern equipment is offered. Treatment emphasizes modern concepts of drug therapy combined with environmental control and asthma self-management. The members of the Asthma Center staff work closely with a patient’s primary care physician on every aspect of each patient’s evaluation and care.
Common procedures used in evaluating patients for allergies include:
- Allergy skin testing
- Blood tests for specific allergens
- Rhinoscopy, a procedure that uses a thin tube to look inside the nose and the back of the throat.
Pulmonary and allergy specialists offer assistance to those with allergic or other reactions to fungi at home. Industrial surveys for fungi contaminations also are available.
Evaluations for congenital and acquired immunodeficiencies (the inability to make antibodies, or abnormalities in the T cells) as well as modern, up-to-date therapy for these conditions are available. This evaluation does not include HIV.
Therapies available include:
- Extensive discussions for environmental modifications to eliminate common allergens
- Modern drug therapy for allergies
- Allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots)
The physicians at the Jacqueline Maritz Lung Center and the Asthma Center accept most major insurance carriers.
Two convenient locations
Jacqueline Maritz Lung Center
4921 Parkview, 8th Floor
St. Louis, Mo 63110
The Asthma Center
1040 N. Mason Road, Suite 112
St. Louis, MO 63141