Services we Provide
We Test, Diagnose and Treat a full range of Immunological Conditions.
Adverse Reactions to Food, Drugs, and Latex
Allergic Conjunctivitis and Rhinitis
Angioedema and Urticaria (Hives)
Immunotherapy (subcutaneous and oral), traditional and rapid programs
We offer the following special services to diagnose and treat your allergy syndrome and comorbid conditions:
Drug Allergy Desensitization (e.g., to aspirin)
Flu Vaccine Desensitization
Functional Immunity Testing
Insect Venom Immunotherapy with rush program
Lung Function Assessment (functional and biological)
Metal Hypersensitivity Testing
Peanut Anaphylaxis Oral Immunotherapy
Allergy and Allergens
Allergies are caused by abnormalities in a person’s immune system that causes it to respond to otherwise harmless compounds as if they are foreign and harmful substances. This response causes inflammation and swelling of specific cells in the body, leading to congested sinuses, hives, eczema, asthmatic attacks, and other allergic symptoms including fatigue and pain.
Allergen is a broad term used to describe compounds in dust, pollen, mold, animals, and food that can interact with the cells of peoples’ immune system and cause an allergic response. Because allergens come from different sources, not all allergens are the same. This partly explains why people with allergies are not necessarily allergic to everything and why different people can be allergic to different things.
Common offending allergens include pollen, dust, food, insect stings, animal proteins, mold, medication and chemicals.
• People who have indoor pets often have great exposure to dander. We all love our pets. Unfortunately, the proteins found in a pet’s dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine may cause allergic reactions or aggravate asthma symptoms. It’s also no help that our furry friends carry pollen, mold, and other allergens all around our homes. Let us help you learn to strike a balance between your love for animals and maintaining a safe, happy, and healthy life.
• Lightweight pollens carried by air currents are easily inhaled and easily brought into contact with one’s nasal passages.
• In the early summer, grasses are common allergens.
• In the late summer and fall, ragweed and chenopods are common allergens.
Molds are common both inside and outside. Certain types of molds cause allergies and include alternaria, aspergilius, cladosporium, and penicillium.
Dust mites are tiny bug living in your house, mattresses, pillows, carpets, and upholstered furniture. These tiny bugs like eat your dead skin and thrive in warm, humid environments (e.g., your bed).
Dr. Pienkowski will carefully examine each person taking into consideration her current problems, family history, and environmental/dietary exposure. After this examination, Dr. Pienkowski may recommend a test for food and environmental allergens, a blood test, and/or a pulmonary function test with provoking compounds. Such a test is a diagnostic tool that assists Dr. Pienkowski in determining a specific course of treatment and therapeutic needs.
No two people are exactly alike...
...and Dr. Pienkowski emphasizes that everybody deserves a comprehensive, individual assessment. Dr. Pienkowski believes that a specialist in allergy and immunology, neither a nurse practitioner, nor a nurse, should be responsible for the interpretation of your test and subsequent debriefing. While a nurse may assist with cleaning your back and applying allergens, a nurse or nurse practitioner does not have the clinical training to assess the results of your test.
The first signal that a person has allergies is the experience of allergic symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, eyes stomach, or on the skin. In general, fatigue, muscle and joint pain are also allergic symptoms.
- Ears – pain, popping, and clogging
- Eyes – watery, red, itchy eyes and/or dark discoloration underneath one’s eyes
- Nose – congestions, running, sniffing, sneezing, and a stinging sensation when breathing
- Lungs – coughing, wheezing, feeling of tightness, mucus build up
- Throat – itchiness, lump-like sensation, tightness, difficulties swallowing
- Sinuses – pressure, stinging sensation with breathing
- Skin – hives, eczema, swelling of ligaments
- Stomach – abdominal pain, distension, constipation, or diarrhea
Dr. Pienkowski has performed and interpreted tens of thousand of these tests, so it is safe to say he knows what he is doing.
Do not compromise: come in and see us.
Allergy immunotherapy is a cost-effective treatment for people who suffer from allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, conjunctivitis, or stinging insect allergies. A patient who follows her treatment regime will notice a marked decrease in many allergy symptoms. Our goal is to induce complete allergic remission.
The purpose of immunotherapy is to immunize the patient, or make the patient’s body tolerant, to specific allergens that would normally cause the patient to experience allergic symptoms.
How it is done
Immunization is achieved by subcutaneously injecting the patient with allergens that are known to cause an allergic reaction in the patient. At the beginning of the treatment, the patient receives an injection of allergens small enough to not cause an allergic response. The doses are then increased with each new injection until the patient’s immune system has become immunized to those allergens.
To start, patients receive injections twice a week, but after the initial phase patients receive injections once a week. In sequence the frequency of injections will decrease to once every two weeks and once a month.
After the once-a-month phase, the immunotherapy is typically complete and the patient will discontinue the treatment.
Specific Immunotherapy v. Nonspecific Immunotherapy
At Pienkowski, MD Clinic, the allergens used for a patient’s immunotherapy treatment are specifically chosen based on the results from the patient’s allergy test and the patient’s clinical history. That means every patient is injected with a specific, carefully-selected mixture of allergens to which she is allergic. Dr. Pienkowski notes that this method has less risk and is more effective than the conventional method in other allergy clinics.
The conventional method involves injecting patients with a generic mixture of allergens. Each patient receives the same mixture of allergens regardless of their response to certain allergens. Although this method is cheaper, it runs the risk of making the patient allergic to certain allergens to which they were not originally allergic. In Dr. Pienkowski’s experience, the conventional method is less effective in treating a person’s allergic symptoms
Allergy Immmunotherapy vs. Allergy Medication
While the use of prescribed or over-the-counter medication to relieve allergy symptoms is effective and worthwhile in certain circumstances, allergy medications do not help treat the underlying cause of allergic abnormalities.
Medications interact with the chemicals released by immune cells after exposure to an allergen in order to stop those chemicals from causing an allergic response.
In contrast, immunotherapy makes immune cells tolerate specific allergens so that no chemicals are released from those cells to start with.
Asthma is a complex disease of the lungs. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma: 90% of children and at least 50% of adults with asthma suffer from allergic asthma. An asthmatic’s airways are especially sensitive to allergens and other airborne irritants.
When an asthmatic person is exposed to allergens and irritants, the lining of her airways may become inflamed (swell) and narrow. Her airways may further narrow as the muscles surrounding the airways spasm, or rapidly decrease in size. Infections, exercise, hormones, medication, and your body’s natural reflexes may exacerbate a person’s asthma.
In response to the inflammation, a person’s body will produce mucus. This mucus will clog airways and restrict the flow of air. This occurrence is what most people know as an “asthma attack.”
A drug allergy is an allergic reaction to medication. Almost any medication can cause an allergic reaction. Common ones include the following: Penicillin, Sufonamides (sulfa drugs), Local anesthetics, and X-ray dyes that contain iodine.
Common symptoms of a drug allergy include swelling around the mouth, hives, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe reactions including anaphylaxis are possible.
Come by and ask us about our drug desensitization services.
Not all unpleasant reactions with food are “food allergies.” A food allergy is a reaction triggered by a person’s immune system. Many people suffer from food intolerance, which are unpleasant but do not involve the immune system.
Dr. Pienkowski treats people for both food allergies and intolerances. For example, “lactose intolerance” is not an allergy because it does not involve the immune system but results in bloating, cramping, nausea, and diarrhea.
Common immediate symptoms of food allergies include:
- Itchiness or tingling in the mouth
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing
- Throat tightness
- Weight loss
Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. People with eczema may have a red itchy rash or dry scaly skin. Eczematous flare-ups commonly occur when people eat something to which they are allergic or sensitive to.
Although eczema cannot be cured, the single best treatment is avoidance of allergens. Remember, eczema on your skin is only an outward sign of what is happening on the inside of your body, so the condition is far from cosmetic!
Hives are noncontagious and present as itchy, red, swollen areas on your skin. Hive may pass quickly or last for several weeks (chronic urticaria). Common causes of hives include the following:
- Allergies to food, additives, or drugs
- Autoimmune disorders
- Contact with chemicals
- Exercise and stress