Our allergist-immunologist are experts in the evaluation, diagnosis and management of allergic diseases and disorders of the immune system.
Why Choose Ochsner for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology?
The Ochsner Health Section of Allergy and Immunology consists of board-certified physicians who treat both adult and pediatric patients. For your convenience, allergy services are available at our hospitals and most of our neighborhood health centers.
Ochsner's Asthma Management Program features both inpatient and outpatient services. Outpatient services include individual education courses for the patient and family, objective monitoring of asthma, identification and control of environmental hazards, and acute management plans for home management of exacerbations and regular follow-up care.
Learn about Ochsner’s Pediatric Allergy and Immunology section, here.
Conditions We Treat
- Allergic Rhinitis (also called “hay fever”)
- Allergic Conjunctivitis
- Allergic Asthma
- Urticaria (hives) and Angioedema
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Insect allergies
- Antibiotic and other drug related allergies
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Latex allergies
Schedule an Appointment
We also offer virtual visits. If you are a new patient, your first virtual appointment is at the discretion of the provider. Learn more about virtual visits, here.
You may also schedule online through the MyOchsner patient portal. This allows you to conveniently schedule your next appointment yourself.
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Watery eyes
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itching of the eyes, ears, nose and mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the eyelids, lips or body
Chronic allergy symptoms may include:
Allergic rhinitis symptoms:
Allergic rhinitis is caused by things that trigger allergies, called allergens. These allergens can be found both outdoors and indoors. When allergic rhinitis is caused by common outdoor allergens such as mold or trees, grass and weed pollen it is often referred to as seasonal allergies, or "hay fever." Allergic rhinitis may also be triggered by allergens that are in your house, such as animal dander (tiny skin flakes and saliva), indoor mold, or the droppings of cockroaches or house dust mites tiny creatures found in the home.
Signs of allergic rhinitis are similar to signs of a common cold. But, unlike common cold symptoms, allergic rhinitis can last for more than 8-10 days and may include:
- A stuffy nose or a runny nose
- Itchy nose, itchy eyes or watery eyes
- Children who have allergic rhinitis might have dark circles under their eyes, or use the palm of their hand to push their nose up as they try to stop the itching (called the "allergic salute")
- Coughing caused by clear mucus running down the back of your throat
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can cause death. It can happen in people who have allergies or asthma, and it may be caused by several normally harmless things called allergens. Most often it is caused by foods, insect stings and medicines. Anaphylactic signs (or symptoms) usually do not happen the first time you are near the allergen. That's because it can take some time for your body to build up an antibody to the allergen. Signs of anaphylaxis usually start 5 to 30 minutes of meeting the allergen, but sometimes symptoms can begin after 1 hour. An anaphylactic reaction can make it hard to breathe or cause you to pass out. It can even cause death. That's why anaphylaxis is always an emergency. It is important to know when anaphylaxis is happening, how to treat it and how to stop it from happening again.
- A red rash, with welts, that usually is itchy
- Swollen throat or swollen areas of the body
- Wheezing (breathing that sounds like whistling from your chest)
- Passing out
- Chest tightness
- Trouble breathing
- A hoarse voice
- Trouble swallowing
- Abdominal cramping
- A pale or red color to the face and body
Anaphylaxis is a dangerous medical emergency that can lead to death. If you think you or your child may be having an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 to get immediate help.
- Thick yellow or green stuff that runs from the nose or down the throat
- Unusual bad taste or bad breath
- Nasal stuffiness
- Face pain or pressure
- Fever and chills
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Swelling around the eyes or cheeks
Antihistamines and nose sprays that you buy at the store can help at first, but they can have unpleasant side effects. These antihistamines can make you tired and the nasal sprays can make your stuffiness worse. Nose sprays and antihistamines that your doctor prescribes are a different type of medicine and are very helpful for controlling symptoms. Some are safe for young children and all are safe for adults. Your allergist/immunologist will determine the medicine and treatment that is right for you.
For some patients, allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are very helpful, and safe. Allergy shots help how your body handles allergens. Your doctor may talk to you about allergy shots if your allergy symptoms are bad or very bad, if they happen for most of the year, if they do not respond well to medicine, and if they happen when you are around allergens that are hard to avoid, such as flower pollen or house dust mites.
If you have an anaphylactic reaction, you should see an allergist/immunologist to write a treatment plan for your allergies. An allergist/immunologist is a doctor who has special training to treat allergies and asthma. The treatment plan will help you figure out how to avoid the allergens that could lead to anaphylaxis:
- If you have food allergies, avoid those foods. Milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts are the foods that most often cause anaphylaxis in people who are allergic to these foods.
- If you are allergic to latex, do not use natural rubber latex products, such as gloves or balloons.
- If you have severe insect allergy, avoid spending time outside during insect season. Ask your doctor about receiving insect venom immunotherapy (allergy shots) to protect you against future reactions.
If you are so severely allergic to something that it can trigger an anaphylactic reaction, you will probably always need to be on the lookout for that trigger and carry epinephrine that can be used to control anaphylaxis. This comes in two forms, EpiPen or EpiPen Jr., and is given as a shot. If your child is old enough to responsibly use an EpiPen or EpiPen Jr., he or she should always have one close by. If you think you may be having an anaphylactic reaction, you should:
- Use your EpiPen if you have one.
- Call 911, even if you think your reaction is under control.
Some people may be tempted to use nose sprays they can buy in the drug store to help their sinusitis. These might make you feel better for a day or two, but after a few more days, they can make your nose feel more plugged and stuffy. That's why you should talk to your doctor if you have sinusitis. Treating sinusitis can involve one or more of the following:
- Antibiotics: 10- to 14-days for acute sinusitis
- Steroid nasal sprays
- A salt-water or saline nasal wash
- Treating underlying allergies (if there are underlying allergies) with medications and/or allergy shots
- Surgery should be considered only if treatment from your doctor does not work, or if something is blocking the sinuses that cannot be fixed with medicine.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a life-long breathing problem, and almost 5 million children have asthma. It is caused by swelling and closing of the airways and can make it hard to breathe. You cannot see airways because they are inside the body, connected to the lungs. If your child has asthma and it's not treated, it could limit the activities your child can participate in, as well as his or her ability to feel well and be alert in school. Because asthma affects your child's ability to breathe, it's a serious condition. It can even cause death. That's why asthma needs to be treated by a doctor, and why you need to carefully follow the doctor's instructions.
How can I tell if my child has asthma?
By watching and listening for clues or symptoms you can tell if your child might have asthma. Another word for clues is symptoms. Asthma symptoms include:
- Wheezing (a whistling sound heard when your child breathes in or out)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains or tightness
Young children might point to their chests and say "I hurt" or "I feel funny here." Babies cannot say anything at all. That's why it is important to take your baby to the doctor for well-baby visits. Your doctor can tell if your baby has asthma. If you think your child might have asthma, take him to the doctor.
My child's asthma symptoms come and go. Why?
Some things make asthma symptoms worse. These are called triggers, because they "trigger" symptoms. Common triggers are:
- Animal fur or dander (tiny skin flakes and saliva). All animals with fur, even short fur, have this.
- Pollen from leaves or weeds
- Cigarette smoke
- Household dust
A cold or the flu also can trigger asthma symptoms. Cold air and exercise can, too. (Exercise and playing outside are good for your child, but he or she might need medicine before exercising.) When your child is near his or her triggers, symptoms can get worse. Staying away from, or getting rid of the triggers will help. Your doctor can help you figure out how to get rid of asthma triggers. Even when your child feels good, it's very important to follow the directions from your doctor, especially when it comes to taking medicine. The medicine can help to keep your child healthy and keep airways from getting tight.
How can the doctor tell of my child has asthma?
- Asking questions about your child's health
- Finding out how much air your child's lungs can hold
If my child has asthma, how will the doctor and I help?
If your child has asthma, the doctor will give you prescriptions for medicine. Your child may need one medicine. Or, he or she may need more than one. Be sure you understand which medicines your child should take, and how often. If you don't understand the directions, ask the doctor or nurse.
What is an asthma attack?
Any time your child has asthma symptoms, it is an attack. Some attacks end quickly. Other are serious. An attack is bad if:
- The child has trouble breathing, walking or talking
- Lips or fingernails turn blue or gray
- These symptoms get worse even after taking medication
If these things happen, it is an EMERGENCY. Help your child take quick-relief medications and call 911.
What can I do to help my child?
- Work with the doctor to make sure your child has the right medicine, and make sure your child takes the medicine and follows directions.
- Decrease the triggers in your home, like dust, smoking and cockroaches, that make your child's asthma worse.
- Make sure your school knows about your child's asthma. They should have a plan on file to help your child if he or she has an asthma attack. Your doctor will help you create this plan. If your child is old enough, he should carry his asthma medication with him in case symptoms get bad.
Asthma is a serious condition, but by working with your doctor and by trying to get rid of the triggers that make your child's asthma worse, you are helping your child to be healthier.
What are food allergies?
When some people eat certain foods, even a tiny bit, they can have an allergic reaction, such as a rash, runny nose or itchy eyes. Some could even have a more serious reaction that can cause death. That type of reaction is called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis). A food that causes an allergic reaction is called a food allergen. It's usually the protein part of the food (also called a food protein) that causes the allergic reaction.
Which foods cause allergic reactions?
In children, six foods cause almost all food allergy reactions:
- Tree nuts (like walnuts and pecans)
Both raw and cooked foods can cause allergic reactions. (Cooking a food does not prevent it from causing an allergic reaction.) Children will often outgrow an allergy to eggs, milk and soy. In adults, four foods cause almost all food allergy reactions:
- Tree nuts
Who gets food allergies? Can they be stopped?
Once you have food allergies, there are not any medicines that make food allergies go away. If you are allergic to a certain food, the only way to make sure you won't have a reaction is to never taste, touch or even smell the food. Moms who breast feed their babies might keep the babies from getting food allergies. Another way to keep babies from getting food allergies is to wait to feed them foods that often cause food allergies:
- Try to wait until babies are 6 months old before you give them solid foods. Wait until they are 1 year old before giving them milk and other dairy products (like cheese and yogurt).
- Toddlers should not eat eggs until they are 2 years old.
- Children should not eat peanuts, nuts or fish until they are 3 years old. Talk to your doctor about a plan for introducing these foods.
Talk to your doctor about a plan for introducing these foods.
How can I tell if I have food allergies?
If you think you are allergic to a food, an allergist/immunologist will do tests to find out which foods are you allergic to.
What are the signs of a food allergy?
Your body could respond in several ways if you are allergic to a certain food:
- Your skin could become red, itchy or develop a rash
- Your nose could become stuffy or itchy, you might start sneezing, or your eyes could itch and develop tears
- You might vomit, have stomach cramps or diarrhea
How dangerous are food allergies?
Food allergies can lead to death. A life-threatening reaction caused by allergy is called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis). You need to immediately call 911 if the following happens after you eat something:
- Hoarseness, throat tightness or a lump in your throat
- Wheezing, chest tightness or having a hard time breathing
- Tingling in the hands or feet, lips or scalp
If you have any of these reactions, call 91l. An anaphylactic reaction moves very quickly and can cause death.
What should I do if I have one or more food allergies?
Avoid the food (or food proteins) you're allergic to. If, for example, you're allergic to milk, avoid milk, yogurt, ice cream and anything that is made with milk. This sounds simple, but food proteins can hide in places you might not expect to find them, most often as ingredients in other foods. Food labels usually list all the ingredients in any given food. That's why it's a good idea, if you have food allergies, to read the labels. If you see one of your food allergens is listed, don't eat the food. The problem, though, is that a food protein can have more than one name. Different names for some food ingredients appear below:
- Casein, caseinates, rennet casein
- Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactoglobulin, lactulose
- Albumin (also spelled albumen)
- Meringue or meringue powder
- These items also may include egg protein: artificial flavors; lecithin; macaroni; marzipan; marshmallows; nougat, and pasta. Read the label of these products very carefully.
If you are allergic to peanuts, avoid the following ingredients:
- Artificial nuts, beer nuts, ground nuts, mixed nuts, monkey nuts, nut pieces
- Cold pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil or arachis oil
- Peanut butter, peanut flour. These items may include peanut protein: African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese dishes; baked goods; candy; chili; egg rolls; enchilada sauce; flavoring; marzipan; nougat, and sunflower seeds.
If you have food allergies, don't be shy about asking restaurants, friends, or anyone else serving you food to list the food's ingredients. Tell them you have food allergies and it's important that you know so that you don't become sick. Food allergy is a serious condition, but by working with your doctor and avoiding foods, you can stay healthy. An Ochsner allergist/immunologist can answer other questions you might have about food allergies.