John T. Klimas, MD, Charlotte Allergist, Helps Children Cope With Food Allergies

John T. Klimas, MD, Charlotte Allergist, practices medicine at the Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center in Charlotte, NC. He treats both adults and children with allergies and asthma. The Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center has been serving the Charlotte area since 1952 and is the area’s only asthma and allergy practice made up entirely of board-certified physicians.

After completing his internship and residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Dr. Klimas completed a fellowship at Duke University in the field of Allergy/Immunology. He joined the Charlotte Allergy Center, the forerunner of the Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center, in 1978. Dr. Klimas also serves as Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and has been the principal investigator in more than 70 clinical studies in allergy and asthma.

Dr. Klimas has been well recognized among his peers as a leader in the practice of Allergy and Immunology. He has been named as one of the “Best Doctors in America” by the Charlotte Business Journal in both 2013 and 2014 and “One of the Most Influential Doctors in America” by USA Today in 2010, as well being honored with several other prestigious medical awards.

Recent university studies have shown that true food allergies in children have been on the increase, growing by about 15% to 20% since 1990. Dr. Klimas estimates that the incidence of certain food allergies in children to be 2.5% for milk allergy in the first year of life, 1.3% for egg allergy in children and 0.5% for allergy to peanuts in children. He indicates that children generally grow out of milk and egg allergies by school age but the incidence of allergic reactions to peanuts and tree nuts increases with age. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to foods can include exacerbation of eczema (many children with eczema have food allergies), hives (reddish, itchy skin on the arms, legs and trunk) and swelling in the lips and face. Some other potential reactions include nasal congestion, wheezing and gastro-intestinal symptoms.

“A careful history of patient symptoms is an important first step in a diagnosis”, said Dr. Klimas. “Most symptoms of food allergies are apparent within fifteen minutes to two hours after ingesting the food; however, by the time we see a child, the symptoms are usually gone. We follow up the patient history with a series of lab tests to confirm sensitivity to specific foods.”

The Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center lab testing for food allergies starts with a skin reaction test where small samples of suspect food proteins are placed just under the skin to check for a reaction. A lack of reaction is a highly reliable indication of no allergy to the food being tested. Positive reactions need to be confirmed with a blood test that is very reliable in establishing an allergic reaction to specific foods proteins.

“Although there are experimental studies underway at some universities to develop desensitization treatment regimens for food allergies, the main treatment today for food allergies is avoid, avoid, avoid,” said Dr. Klimas. His advice to parents of children with food allergies is to read the labels on all food products to make sure none of the sensitive foods are among the ingredients, make sure to have your child avoid the sensitive food and always have Benadryl, an antihistamine and epinephrine available for immediate treatment for an accidental ingestion of a food allergen.

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