Allergist’s credentials are nothing to sneeze at

  Phillip Korenblat, M.D.

By Mary Jane Rogers, Special to the Jewish Light

Dr. Phillip Korenblat, 77, is a professor of Clinical Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. He and his wife, Arleen Korenblat, are the namesake of a new endowed professorship from the department of medicine at Washington U.

Korenblat specializes in asthma, allergy and clinical immunology at Wash. U. and was listed in “America’s Top Doctors” from 2002-2006 and then again 2008-2010, as well as being listed in “Best Doctors of America.”  In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement “Master Physician” award from the Barnes-Jewish medical staff.  

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His career began with the completion of his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Arkansas, an internship and residency at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and a fellowship at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, Calif.  He took time off between the internship and residency to serve in the military, and completed one tour as a leading medicine officer.  

Today, Dr. Korenblat also has a private practice in Creve Coeur where he sees patients regularly.

How did you get interested in the fields of asthma, allergy, and clinical Immunology?

When I was in the military, my commanding officer asked if I would take care of patients with allergies.  I thought that it would be very difficult, so I asked him if I could get a book, which I consulted.  I got very interested in allergic diseases, and I liked the character of the patients and the fact that I could help those people.

Are people that have allergies more likely to develop asthma?

In children, most who have asthma also have allergens.  In most adults, anywhere from 56 percent have an allergen in the asthma.

Has any of your research yielded positive results regarding asthma or allergy treatment?

My partner and I have a very appropriate conception of how to do things.  We study medications for allergies and asthma, and there are several medications that we study closely.  We have learned some very exciting things in our field with positive results from the medications we study.

What exactly is an allergy?

An allergy is an untoward physiologic event mediated by immune mechanisms.  For instance, you may drink milk and get diarrhea and that may be an enzyme. But if you drink milk and get hives, that’s usually an allergy.  It is some immune mechanism.

How do you know if someone has allergies or if they just have a cold?

Colds last for eight days then go away.  Allergic events usually last longer than  eight days, and there is lots of itching, which you don’t have in a cold.  Itching around the nose and top of the mouth.  There is also no fever with allergies.

Are certain people more prone to allergies?  Are allergies genetic?

Yes, there is a genetic predisposition.  There are markers for allergies, but we don’t usually go to that level of sophistication with the genetic portion.  We usually just look at the family history.

Can allergies be outgrown?

Ordinarily what we say is you always maintain the ability to have an allergen. If you are allergic as a child, when you age you are still capable of having the allergy, it just may not be active.

How does age affect one’s response to allergy medications?

Children are different than adults.  Most medications now are designed to be safe. Some antihistamines may cause drowsiness, but they are safe and are without side effects when used as prescribed.

Are there any preventative measures recommended to stop allergies from flaring up?

That all depends on the allergen.  There are home measures you can take.  If the allergen is dust mites, then it is a matter of keeping the humidity lower than 50 percent.  If it is pollen, remember the concentration is higher in the morning than the afternoon, so run in the evening.  Also, the removal of the allergen from the environment is best, so if it is cats, try moving them out of the environment if possible.