Our board-certified allergists use the latest treatments, techniques and research to improve the way we manage allergies.
Knowing matters. We’ll help you find the source of your symptoms and create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle.
We’re making it easy to manage your allergies with many clinics offering allergy treatment and immunotherapy for your ongoing allergy care, some with walk-in availability.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 million Americans have allergies each year, making allergies one of the most common chronic conditions.
Allergies occur when your body reacts to a substance, like cat hair or peanuts, as though it’s harmful. An allergic reaction can be minor, like a stuffy nose and watery eyes. Or it can be much more serious, like hives or problems breathing.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we’re here to keep allergies from interfering with your daily life. Choose from board-certified allergists, doctors who specialize in allergy and immunology. Our allergists can diagnose even the most complex causes of allergies and treat those that don’t respond to common remedies. We’ll get you started on a treatment plan that gets your symptoms under control.
Allergists are available at clinics throughout the Twin Cities, including two allergy and asthma specialty clinics in Burnsville and Maple Grove. At these locations, you can see an allergist and an asthma specialist if you have both conditions.
Knowing what type of allergy you have is the first step in finding the best treatment plan. There are three main types of allergies:
Allergies that give you a stuffy nose and make you sneeze are respiratory allergies. Respiratory allergies are triggered by inhaling things that cause your nose or lungs to become swollen. Symptoms of respiratory allergies include nasal congestion, itchy eyes and a runny nose. In some people, respiratory allergies can trigger asthma symptoms. Common types of respiratory allergies are seasonal allergies, those triggered by certain types of pollen, and pet allergies, those triggered by pet dander. Other respiratory allergy triggers include dust mites and mold.
If your mouth tingles or you break into a rash after eating certain foods, you might have food allergies. Food allergies are caused when allergens from foods are digested and enter the bloodstream. Once there, the allergens are carried throughout the body. Shellfish, nuts, wheat and soy are among the most common foods that cause allergic reactions.
It’s normal to experience some redness and swelling after a bug bite or insect sting. However, some people have immune systems that overreact to the venom in bites and stings, causing allergic reactions. For people with stinging insect allergies, venom shots are available and make a big difference. People are commonly allergic to bites and stings from bumblebees, wasps, hornets and fire ants.
It’s common to perform one of these tests when diagnosing allergies:
A skin prick test is a routine way to test for allergies to pollen, pet dander, mold, dust mites and certain foods. The test isn’t painful. During a skin prick test, your skin is lightly pricked with suspected allergens and monitored for allergic reactions. It usually takes about 20-40 minutes.
Also known as a skin injection test, an intradermal test is when a small amount of a suspected allergen is injected into your arm. We’ll then examine your arm for signs of an allergic reaction. The test takes about 15 minutes. The needle used for the test is very small, so it won’t be painful. You might feel a pinch when the injection is performed and mild itching if your body reacts to the allergen. This test is only used sometimes, mostly to check for venom or penicillin allergies.
Once your blood is drawn, we will test it against possible allergens. Your results are usually available a few days after your appointment. Blood tests aren’t used as commonly as skin tests. They’re usually used if you have experienced a severe allergic reaction or if you’re not able to stop taking antihistamines.
There are a number of medicines that can help reduce allergy symptoms. It’s common for people to need a combination of medicines to effectively treat their allergy symptoms. Our team will work with you to find the ideal treatment plan that relieves your symptoms.
Some of the most common medicines used to treat allergies are:
Antihistamines are the most common way to treat allergies and are especially effective at treating hay fever symptoms, such as sneezing and itchy, red eyes. Histamines are your body’s response to allergens and trigger allergic reactions. Antihistamines reduce or block histamines.
Steroids can help with allergy relief by reducing the inflammation that comes with allergies. Steroids also help prevent other symptoms associated with allergies like sneezing and a stuffy nose.
Oral decongestants are available as pills and liquids. They reduce swelling in the airways in your nose, making it easier to breathe. There are also medicines that combine decongestants with antihistamines, which can help with sneezing or itching.
An epinephrine shot is used for food allergies and insect stings only. It’s an emergency injection used when someone has a severe, dangerous allergic reaction. Epinephrine works quickly to open airways, relieve hives and reverse low blood pressure. If needed, we’ll prescribe the shot and help you learn how to use it.
While other allergy treatments offer temporary relief, the goal of allergy shots is to reduce or eliminate your body’s reaction to allergens. Reducing your sensitivity to allergens provides relief from symptoms without the need for allergy medicines.
Allergy shots are administered in two phases. During the “buildup phase,” we’ll give you shots with small doses of allergens, increasing the dose over time. It usually takes several weeks to reach the target dose. Once the target dose is reached, you enter the “maintenance phase” where you receive an allergy shot about once a month.
During your first appointment, we will focus on getting answers. After we diagnose your allergies, our doctor will recommend the treatment plan that will work best.
If additional tests or a follow-up visit is needed, your care team will help schedule that for you.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.
Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.
Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are the member services numbers to help you get started:
- HealthPartners: 800-883-2177
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: 800-382-2000
- CIGNA: 800-244-6224 (insurance through work); 866-494-2111 (insurance directly or through the Exchange)
- Medica: 800-952-3455
- Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- PreferredOne: 763-847-4477 (in the Twin Cities); 800-997-1750 (outside the metro area)
- United Healthcare: 877-842-3210