Meet Dr. Anjuli Mehrotra, Silicon Valley Allergy and Asthma, Inc
Q: What triggers allergies?
AM: Allergies are an immune response developed by the body towards an ordinarily harmless substance, to which it has developed a type of hypersensitive reaction. Allergies can generally be triggered by environmental allergens, foods, stinging insects (bees/wasps/hornets/fire ants) or drugs. Common environmental allergens include dust, animal dander, mold, and pollens from trees, grass, or weeds. The most common food allergens are dairy, egg, wheat, peanut/tree nuts, soy, and seafood.
Q: What can I do at home or in my life to avoid getting allergic reactions?
AM: There are many ways to prevent allergic reactions to common environmental allergens. To reduce dust mite exposure, we usually recommend dust mite allergen covers for the mattresses and pillows, as well as cleaning with a vacuum with a HEPA filter built-in. A HEPA air filter can also be useful for prevention of allergies, primarily pollen and animal dander allergies.
Q: If I need medicine, how does it work? What are the side effects? Is long-term use harmful?
AM: Most allergy medications are targeted towards reducing the amount of histamine that your body releases during an allergic reaction. There are many over the counter antihistamines which are generally well tolerated, but some may cause sedation. The newest generation of antihistamines are less sedating, but still are powerful enough to control symptoms. There are also some low-dose nasal steroid spray options that are particularly helpful at controlling environmental allergy symptoms. It is best to weigh out the risks and benefits with your physician when taking any medication long term.
Q: Is it possible to outgrow allergies?
AM: Yes, our immune responses may change over time, allowing us to “outgrow” allergies. Adolescence is a prime time for change in our immune system, but changes can also continue to occur throughout our lifetime.
Q: By having allergies … can other problems develop?
AM: Worsening of environmental allergies can also lead to development of asthma and sometimes skin allergies as well.
Q: What allergy symptoms do young children usually experience?
AM: Although it takes some time for young children to develop environmental allergies, there has been a huge increase in the amount of children with food allergies in recent times. Most environmental allergies develop after age 5 (with the exception of dust mite and animal dander allergies which may develop earlier), but food allergies in children can develop in early infancy with the first few exposures to more susceptible foods including dairy, eggs, wheat, nuts, seafood, and soy.
Environmental allergies typically produce sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes and/or cough. Food allergies may present with vomiting, rashes, swelling, or respiratory symptoms immediately after eating the culprit allergen.
Q: What tests do you perform to diagnose an allergy or asthma problem?
AM: Allergists use skin prick testing to help diagnose allergies. This involves putting a small amount of extract of allergen on the skin and making a slight prick to allow some of the allergen to be exposed to a deeper layer of skin where allergy cells reside. We then wait 15 minutes to see if the allergy cells produce a response, which typically looks like a small mosquito bite.
For asthma, we have an in-office breathing test called spirometry. In spirometry, we use flow volumes to help us assess how much air the lungs can hold and the speed of the air flow to figure out asthma severity.
Q: What are my treatment options?
AM: First and foremost, I feel prevention is extremely important. There are various methods as I discussed above, but decreasing exposure to allergens is always step one. Medications such as antihistamines or intranasal steroids are great options for environmental allergens, but they may not always give us total control. A great long-term option for environmental allergies and stinging insect allergies is allergen immunotherapy, aka allergy shots. In this method, we attempt to give back gradually increasing amounts of particular allergens to develop immunity or tolerance to the injected allergen.
Q: What was your training to become an allergist Doctor?
AM: After college at MIT, and medical school at Weill Cornell Medical School, I did a pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital in Seattle, followed by a fellowship in Allergy/Immunology at the University of Washington.
Q: What ages of patients do you see?
AM: I see patients of all ages, starting with newborns!
Five Things About Dr. Anjuli Mehrotra
1. What book are you currently reading?
I am re-reading 1984 by George Orwell
2. What is your favorite movie?
I’m not sure I have a favorite movie, but I love anything from a romantic comedy to Star Wars.
3. Where is your dream vacation?
Bora Bora, Tahiti or visiting the Pyramids in Egypt
4. Who’s been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents - they taught me that you don’t get anything in life without working hard.
5. What’s your favorite food to cook?
I love cooking! I make a lot of ethnic foods at home and absolutely love making and decorating cakes.
500 Hospital Dr, Mountain View, CA 94040