Vero Beach  OR  Port St Lucie (2 offices)          
Frequently Asked Questions

Chief of Allergy, Indian River Medical Center
Allergist, Martin Memorial Cleveland Clinc



1. If a patient has one food allergy is there an increased likelihood in developing more allergies? Can food allergy change over time?

Yes. Up to 40% of individuals with a single allergy will go on to develop multiple allergies.

2. Is there a greater chance of becoming allergic to other nuts if you are allergic to one nut?

Yes. If a patient is allergic to one nut, there is a 35% chance of developing an allergy to another nut.

3. Does a food allergy often get worse with each exposure to allergen?

Yes – if exposures are sporadic and not performed in a clinical study.

4. Is there a higher chance of a patient growing out of an allergy if he/she is only allergic to one allergen versus multiple allergens?

The chance of growing out of a food allergy does not depend on the number of food allergies.

5. What are the symptoms of having an allergic reaction to foods?

An allergic reaction to food can affect the skin, the stomach, the lungs and, in the most serious cases, the heart. Reactions can range from mild to the severe and potentially life-threatening.

6. What type of doctor should my child see regarding food allergies?

A board-certified allergist certified by the AMERICAN BOARD OF ALLERGY

7. What tests will help me identify the food allergies?

An oral food challenge (OFC) continues to be the gold standard in food allergy testing. Because an OFC carries a risk of serious reaction, it should be performed under the supervision of an allergist. If this is not available to you, the diagnosis of food allergies is best done with a combination of skin tests and allergen-specific immunoglobulin E blood tests. Combined, these tests increase the positive predictive value of a result but they are not 100% predictive.

8. Can you outgrow food allergies?

There is a 20% chance of outgrowing allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish and a 75% chance of outgrowing allergies to milk, eggs, soy, fish, and wheat.

9. Can food allergy reactions change over time?

Yes. There is a 25% chance of having a completely different reaction the next time a person is exposed to his or her allergen.

10. What is the rate of sibling allergies?

To the best of our knowledge, about 60%.

11. If you have a mild reaction to eating a peanut, can you assume that your future reactions will be mild as well?

Never make this assumption. You need to be careful because the next reaction could be more severe and life-saving medication (epinephrine, Benadryl) should be carried at all times no matter how mild.

12. Can patients allergic to peanuts safely consume other nuts or seeds?

They should be tested first by a board-certified allergy and immunology expert.


13. If a patient is allergic to nuts, can he or she safely eat coconut?


Coconut is in the palm family and it is actually the seed of a drupaceous fruit, not a tree nut. It does not cross-react with tree nuts. However, in October 2006, the FDA began to define coconut as a tree nut. There are a small number of documented cases of allergic reactions to coconut. It is important to discuss this issue with your allergist/immunologist who can instruct you on whether or not you need to avoid coconut if you are tree nut allergic.

14. If a food allergic patient becomes desensitized to an allergen through a clinical trial, how is this tolerance maintained over time?

Once desensitization is achieved, the patient consumes a daily maintenance dose of the allergen (typically 4 grams) to maintain desensitization. On a cellular level, the mechanisms of T and B cells play a role in maintaining desensitization to the allergen.


The answer to these questions are for information, no clinical advice, the subject is currently being researched and answers are derived from the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) and AAAAI and the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). Always consult your physician before acting on any medical advice online.


                                       AAAAI NAB Information....

  1. What is an allergy?  An allergy is an abnormal reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance called an allergen. When an allergen, such as pollen, is absorbed into the body of an allergic person, that person’s immune system views the allergen as an invader and a chain reaction is initiated. White blood cells of the immune system produce IgE antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to special cells called mast cells, causing a release of potent chemicals such as histamine. These chemicals cause symptoms such as a runny nose, watery eyes, itching and sneezing.

  2. What are some common allergens?  People can be allergic to one or several allergens. The most common include pollens, molds, dust mites, animal dander (dead skin flakes from animals with fur); foods; medications; cockroach droppings and insect stings.

  3. Is there only one type of allergic reaction? Allergic individuals can exhibit a variety of reactions ...

    1. Seasonal allergic rhinitis sometimes called "hay fever" is caused by an allergy to the pollen of trees, grasses, weeds or mold spores. Depending on what you are allergic to, the section of the country and the pollination periods, seasonal allergic rhinitis may occur in the spring, summer or fall and may last until the first frost. The sufferer has spells of sneezing, itching and watery eyes, runny nose, burning palate and throat. Seasonal allergies also can trigger asthma.

    2. Allergic rhinitis is a general term used to apply to anyone who has symptoms of nasal congestion, sneezing and a runny nose due to allergies. This may be a seasonal problem as with hay fever, or it may be a year-round problem caused by indoor allergens such as dust mite droppings, animal dander, cockroach droppings or indoor molds/mildew. Frequently, this problem is complicated by sinusitis. Patients with constant nasal symptoms should consult their allergist.

    3. Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a non-contagious, itchy rash that often occurs on the hands, arms, legs and neck, although it can cover the entire body. This condition is frequently associated with allergies, and substances to which a person is sensitive may aggravate it.

    4. Contact dermatitis is a reaction affecting areas of the skin which become red, itchy and inflamed after contact with allergens or irritants such as plants, cosmetics, medications, metals and chemicals.

    5. Urticaria or hives are red, itchy, swollen areas of the skin that can vary in size and appear anywhere on the body. Approximately 25% of the U.S. population will experience an episode of hives at least once in their lives. Most common are acute cases of hives, where the cause is readily identifiable as a reaction to a viral infection, medication, food or latex. Some people have chronic hives that occur almost daily for months to years, with no identifiable trigger. Angioedema is a swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. It is not red or itchy, and most often occurs in soft tissue, such as the eyelids or mouth. Hives and angioedema may appear together or separately on the body.

  4. What kind of a doctor is an allergist?  An allergist/clinical immunologist is a Pediatrician or Internist who has undergone 2-3 years of special training in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. To understand what you are allergic to, an allergist will take a personalized patient history, including a thorough record of the illness, family history, and home and work (school) environments; perform allergy testing, and possibly perform other laboratory tests. An allergist can create a management plan with you for better control of your environment. Your plan may also include proper medication and perhaps immunotherapy.

  5. What is Immunotherapy?  Immunotherapy, or "allergy shots", is recommended for patients with moderate to severe allergy symptoms throughout most of the year, who do not respond adequately to medications, and whose symptoms are triggered by an allergen that is not easily avoided, such as pollens or house dust mites. Immunotherapy involves the injection of allergenic extracts (tiny amounts of allergens) that are given over a period of 3-5 years. By gradually increasing the amount of extract, tolerance to the offending allergen will increase, and the patient’s symptoms will be relieved.

    Currently, immunotherapy is used to treat patients who are sensitive to inhaled allergens—pollens, molds, dander and house dust. Studies have also found immunotherapy to be extremely effective in many cases of stinging insect allergy as well.

  6. Will moving help my allergies? People with allergies have an inherited, genetic tendency to produce IgE, the allergic antibody, to many different substances such as seasonal allergens, (trees, grasses, weeds) or year-round allergens (dust mites, pet dander). When a person with allergies moves to another location, exposure to different allergens in the new location will likely result in a new set of allergy triggers, thereby trading one set of symptoms for another. In some cases, the benefits of a change in location may outweigh the negative aspects.

    Before making a move to "get away from your allergies" consult with your allergist. Also, when contemplating a move, if possible, check out the new environment by visiting there for two to four weeks (or more) to see if your symptoms improve. Keep in mind it may take months or years to become allergic to a new allergen i.e., tree, grass or weed species.

    Seasonal allergy sufferers may be able to find temporary relief by taking a vacation during the height of the pollen season to a more pollen-free environment such as near large bodies of water.

  7. Is it dangerous to do nothing about an allergy?  In some cases, it is dangerous to ignore allergy symptoms. Severe and untreated hay fever may lead to asthma, sinusitis, and other serious conditions. Allergic dermatitis or eczema can spread to secondary infections if they are not treated properly, and untreated asthma can lead to chronic symptoms. Early detection and treatment of all allergic diseases is important.

  8. Can I ever be cured of my allergy?  The tendency to have allergies is genetically inherited. Thus, instead of a cure, patients should work with their allergist to keep their allergies under control. Successful treatment of allergies includes early detection, proper usage of medications and simple allergen avoidance techniques.

For more information, contact:
Michael Wein, M.D.
Port St. Lucie Allergy
322 NW Bethany Drive
(772) 621-9992

  St. Lucie West Office       Vero Beach Office
322 NW Bethany Dr       3375 20th Street
Port St Luce FL  34986      Vero Beach FL  32960
(772) 621-9992      (772) 299-7299

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