Thursday, March 23, 2023

According to the Centers for Disease Con­trol, 20% of Americans suffer from one or more allergies including environmental, food, med­icine, and insect-related allergies. Addition­al data show that allergies limit activities for more than 40% of children and account for more than 17 million outpatient office vis­its annually, and that food allergies cause 30,000 visits to the emergency room each year.

The statistics show why it is important to see an allergist. Dr. Debora Geller, who re­ceived her medical degree from the Univer­sity of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, completed her residency in Gen­eral Pediatrics at Upstate Medical University and fellowship in Allergy and Immunology at SUNY Buffalo Children’s Hospital, recently opened her own practice in Emerson. Dr. Gel­ler is board certified by the American Board of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and is a member of the American Academy of Aller­gy, Asthma, and Immunology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunolo­gy, and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. She is also the recipient of the Gilbert B. Forbes Prize in Pediatrics and the Department of Pediatrics Award for Ex­cellence in Teaching.

She decided to open her own prac­tice to be more available to her family and three children and to provide patients with a more personalized doctor/patient expe­rience. That experience typically starts after individuals notice symptoms in themselves or in their family members. Patients may bring those symptoms to the attention of their general practitioner who then may re­fer them to an allergist for an in-depth evalu­ation. “You try to get down to the nitty-gritty and find out exactly what someone is aller­gic to in order to make sure they avoid those triggers,” Dr. Geller said.

After a specific allergy is pinpointed, Dr. Geller spends a lot of time educating her pa­tients about trigger avoidance and preven­tion. This is important because not all poten­tial triggers are immediately obvious. As an example of what that means, Dr. Geller de­scribed a patient with severe pollen aller­gies whose bed sheets were hung outside to dry, not realizing that they were being coat­ed with pollen. With the correct education, the child’s parents could easily avoid such an exposure.

Allergies, regardless of type, can devel­op at any point in an individual’s life and can wax and wane. In fact, 20% of those diagnosed with a peanut allergy may out­grow it. Because of this, Dr. Geller said, al­lergies require follow-up and monitoring.

When it comes to seasonal allergies, Dr. Geller said that “there are options on treatment and there are quality medi­cines both by prescription and over the counter so that patients do not have to feel miserable.”

Seasonal pollen allergies can some­times translate to “food” allergies, specifi­cally with fresh fruit and vegetables. This is called oral allergy syndrome or fruit pollen syndrome. Individuals may pre­sent with mild oral itching or irritation or, rarely, more severe symptoms. Usual­ly, such individuals may safely eat the pro­duce in its cooked form because the heat­ing process denatures the allergen.

Symptoms of environmental allergies may present as cold-like symptoms that linger: snoring, mouth breathing, recur­rent sinus infections, and eczema, or the more typical “hay fever” symptoms. Al­lergies can present with “a spectrum of symptoms, and they’re not all as obvious as in the typical springtime symptoms.”

In addition, many creams and lotions contain ingredients to which individu­als may be allergic. Extensive education, a process that is important to Dr. Geller, is something that can help people learn to avoid those items.

Dr. Debora Geller sees patients on Wednesdays and Fridays with late hours on Wednesday. She shares the office space with her husband, Dr. Bradley Gel­ler, an ophthalmologist. For more infor­mation on Dr. Geller or her practice, call (201) 265-7515 or visit www.bergenallergy­doctor.com.

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