Asthma is a chronic lung condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Asthma results in symptoms of cough, wheezing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath.

Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. Common triggers that lead to asthma symptoms include environmental allergens such as pollens, dust mites, moulds and animal danders, irritants such as cigarette smoke, exercise, emotional stress, and respiratory infections.

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood. Its cause is unknown but researchers think some genetic and environmental factors interact to cause asthma. Treating asthma early may prevent long-term lung damage and helps keep the condition from worsening over time.

Insect sting allergy

Most people who get stung by an insect can develop minor localized redness and swelling at the site of the bite, however for some people, they may experience a much more serious body-wide reaction

Allergic reactions to insect stings are caused by the venom injected. If a person is insect-allergic, after the first sting, their body produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE).

If stung again by the same kind of insect, the venom interacts with this specific IgE antibody, triggering the release of substances that can lead to anything from mild to life-threatening or fatal reactions. Patients with insect sting allergies must be trained to recognize and treat severe reactions, and may be candidates for venom immunotherapy, a potentially life-saving treatment option


Drug allergy

A drug allergy is the abnormal immunologic reaction to a medication.

Certain medications that are likely to produce allergic reactions include antibiotics such as penicillin, anticonvulsants, anesthetic agents, monoclonal antibody therapy, chemotherapy agents, and vaccines. The most common signs and symptoms of drug allergy are hives, swelling, or fever, and may cause anaphylaxis.

Drug allergies are commonly over-diagnosed, and your allergist will help determine if you truly need to avoid the medication in question, or if this could again be safely used in the future.

Animal (pet) allergy

Animals, particularly dogs, cats, and horses are common triggers of allergic reactions and can aggravate several other allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis (hay fever).

The proteins found in a animal’s fur, dander, saliva and urine trigger the allergic reaction. This response can cause allergy symptoms such as sneezing,itchiness and watery eyes, coughing, and wheezing.

The best method of controlling an animal allergy is to avoid or reduce exposure to the animal as much as possible. Medications or other treatments may be necessary to prevent or relieve symptoms and manage asthma.

Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever is an inflammation of the nasal and sinus tissues characterized by nasal congestion, itchy eyes, mouth or skin, runny nose and sneezing. It is typically triggered by environmental allergens such as pollens, animal dander, dust mites, or moulds.

Allergic rhinitis can affect quality of life, causing poor sleep quality, drowsiness during the day, fatigue, and poor concentration. The inflammation associated with allergic rhinitis can make symptoms of asthma worse and may often lead to other conditions such as nasal polyps, ear infections in children, and recurrent sinus infections in adults.These symptoms and complications can usually be well-controlled with environmental control measures, safe and effective medications, and in some cases, allergen immunotherapy.


Food allergy

Food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts unusually after eating a certain food. It can be present at any age, from infancy to adulthood. Some common reactions include hives, itching or swelling in the mouth, tightening of throat and trouble breathing, stomach pain and vomiting.


These are known as “the big eight allergens” that account for about 90% of all food allergies.

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish, including shrimp, mussels, and crabs
  • Soya
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts,hazelnuts, and cashews
  • Wheat


In some cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis which seeks immediate medical attention.


Although allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are often life-long, children commonly “outgrow” allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy, and there are now many evolving strategies to help with this process.

Other kinds of reactions to food that are not allergies include food intolerances (such as lactose or milk intolerance), and toxic reactions. Although symptoms may resemble those of food allergy, the triggers, symptom severity, and health implications differ substantially.


Anaphylaxis is a sudden severe body-wide allergic reaction to an allergen exposure that occurs rapidly and causes a potentially fatal condition known as anaphylactic shock. When a body goes into anaphylactic shock, the blood pressure suddenly drops preventing the heart from receiving oxygen and the airways are constricted, which makes breathing extremely difficult.

There are varying triggers of anaphylaxis, including allergies to medications, food (such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, and milk), insect stings and latex products. Although allergic reactions to environmental triggers such as pollens and animals can be very unpleasant and bothersome, these do not typically trigger anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is a true medical emergency. It can be life-threatening if not treated quickly and appropriately. In general, treatment of anaphylaxis includes the immediate use of epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen), a form of adrenalin and observation by a highly trained physician.


Urticaria, commonly known as hives, are red, very itchy swellings that usually occur rapidly and eventually disappear with or without treatments.

Hives can vary in size and occur in groups or any part of the skin, before fading and appearing on another area of the body.

Hives can be a sign of an allergic reaction, however there are many other common causes of hives, including viral infections, some medications such as codeine and morphine, and physical triggers, such as heat, cold, pressure, vibration, and scratching.

Chronic urticaria, hives which come and go for months or years, are not a sign of an external allergy, but are instead an autoimmune phenomenon. They are usually controllable with safe and effective medications, and allergists at Snö Asthma & Allergy have a great deal of experience managing acute and chronic hives.


Atopic dermatitis or eczema is a chronic skin condition where patches of skin become inflamed, red, itchy and may look very dry and may ooze when scratched. It is common in children but can occur at any age.

Eczema may be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and immune system factors. Although allergies may aggravate eczema, they are not the cause. In fact, recent evidence suggests the opposite may be true, eczema may cause allergies! Most cases of atopic eczema appear to be genetic, reflecting an inherited defect in skin barrier function, leading to increased water loss and resultant inflammatory changes. There is no cure for eczema, but available treatments focus on healing damaged skin and minimizing symptoms. Many children will “outgrow” eczema over time, and recent studies suggest eczema can even be prevented in higher-risk infants.

Atopic dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is an irritation of the skin caused by a direct contact with a foreign substance termed as primary irritants.

Symptoms can include a rash, blisters, itching and burning. These symptoms can appear within minutes of exposure and fade away within minutes to hours or may take several days to weeks to heal.

Many substances can cause such reactions, including cosmetics, hair dye, fragrances, laundry detergents, nickel and latex.