Why see a specialist in immunology, rheumatology, and allergy?

Disorders of your immune system can be very serious. You want to be diagnosed and treated by someone who specializes in this very complex system of organs, cells, and chemicals that work together to protect the body.

Members of the UI Health Care immunology team are board-certified rheumatologists and allergists/immunologists who help restore health in both children and adults.

Your body’s defense system

The immune system protects your body from germs, cancers, and other diseases. All its elements work  together to defend against invaders. Your body’s defenses themselves are powerful, too, so it’s the immune system’s job to keep defense levels just right, not too little and not too much.

Out of balance

When the immune system doesn’t work as it is supposed to, the immunology team is prepared to diagnose and treat a whole range of diseases.

In the past, many of these diseases were considered rare, but today they are being more frequently recognized and their effect is seen from infancy to older ages. Through improved testing and diagnosis, these disorders can be diagnosed in the earliest stages so appropriate treatment can begin immediately.

Focus on rheumatology

Rheumatologists evaluate and treat autoimmune, inflammatory or other musculoskeletal conditions like: 

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
  • Spondyloarthropathies like ankylosing spondylitis 
  • Myositis (Muscle inflammation)
  • Gout and CPP arthritis (Pseudogout)
  • Vasculitis including Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis
  • Osteoarthritis

In these conditions, inflammation from an immune system that isn’t working correctly, causes damage to joints, muscles, and other body parts.

When you have a timely and appropriate diagnosis, your care can begin to reclaim your health and prevent further organ damage.

Rheumatologists will carefully study your symptoms and health history, then use lab tests and imaging (like x-rays, MRIs, and ultrasound) to make a diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan.

Autoimmune disorders usually affect more than one organ system and rheumatologists work closely with your primary care provider and other specialists to coordinate your care.

Focus on allergies

Allergies are when the immune system produces antibodies against

  • Environmental substances like pollens, dander, molds, weeds, and dust mites, or
  • Foods like nuts, milk, egg, wheat, shellfish, and others

The antibodies can lead to symptoms like

  • Nasal or sinus congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low blood pressure

Our immunology team also treats immune deficiencies, where not enough defenses lead to increased risk of infections, cancers, or autoimmune diseases.

After thorough testing to diagnose your allergy or immunodeficiency, we have many treatment options tailored to your specific condition.

Our diagnostic tests include specialized laboratory testing and safely exposing you to tiny amounts of allergens to see if you react. We also use pulmonary function testing and imaging to measure the severity of your condition.

Our treatments include allergen immunotherapy and immunoglobulin replacement, tailored to your system.

Treatment and research

Members of our immunology team actively conduct research on immune mechanisms. Working in teams in our own academic medical center and partnering with researchers around the country, they are determining new treatments to restore health for people with rheumatologic and immunologic diseases.

They frequently participate in clinical trials, offering patients safe and proven therapies that may not yet be widely available.

Last reviewed: 
June 2018

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