About Us

The Allergy and Asthma Center of Northern New Jersey is dedicated to providing outstanding care to adults and children who suffer from allergy-related diseases and asthma.

We pride ourselves in our ability to diagnose and treat a wide range of allergic conditions such as seasonal allergies (hay fever), food allergies, eczema, hives, sinus diseases, drug allergy and asthma.

Our mission is to provide excellent care with precision and compassion with the goal of improving the lives of individuals with allergies and asthma.

Our Allergist

Neil Minikes, M.D., F.A.A.A.A.I.

Dr. Neil Minikes is a board-certified allergist/ immunologist in private practice at the Allergy and Asthma Center of Northern New Jersey.

He received his M.D. degree from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, completed his pediatric residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York and completed his Allergy/Immunology Fellowship at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and is an Attending Allergist at Englewood Hospital Medical Center and Hackensack University Medical Center.

Dr. Minikes has been listed in numerous “Best Doctor” publications including New York Magazine, Inside Jersey, Castle Connolly’s Guide to Best Doctors, (201) Health Magazine and New Jersey Family Magazine.

Our Nurse

Beth Heller, R.N.

Beth Heller received her B.S. in Nursing from Fairfield University. She spent 19 years at Babies Hospital/Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center with research and leadership roles and 12 years as a staff nurse for a pediatric group practice.

About Allergies

Allergies are very common and occur in approximately one in five people, affecting infants, children and adults of all ages. Symptoms can range from mild and annoying to severe and life-threatening.

An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system identifies a substance (called an “allergen”) as an invader. Your immune system then reacts to the invader by recruiting immune cells and making antibodies to destroy the allergen. Substances are released into the body tissues; the nose, eyes, lungs, intestines and skin during the allergic reaction. In the nose, histamine causes sneezing and itching. In the lungs, coughing and wheezing and asthma symptoms occur. In the stomach and intestine, allergic reactions can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The most severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) and can be life threatening.

Food Allergies

Food allergies have become increasingly common in recent years, affecting approximately 8% of children in the U.S. and 4% of adults.

Just eight foods are responsible for 90% of food allergies.

  • Cow’s milk

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Peanuts

  • Shellfish

  • Soy

  • Tree nuts

  • Wheat

Most food allergic reactions occur within minutes to hours after ingestion. Symptoms may include itching of the mouth, hives, swelling, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms, coughing or wheezing. The most severe food allergic reactions can affect the blood pressure and nervous system as well.

Hives

Hives, or urticaria, can be a very annoying and persistent problem in both adults and children. Hives can be the result of an allergic reaction to food, medication, or an insect sting. Occasionally, hives result from a physical stimulus such as exercise. In those cases, the hives usually occur soon (minutes to hours) after exposure.

Chronic hives (lasting weeks to months) are usually quite innocent and not the result of an allergic reaction or disease. Hives tend to be raised bumps, red and itchy and sometimes associated with swelling (angioedema).

Eczema

Eczema is a skin condition that is characterized by dry itchy skin, which can either be localized to specific areas of the body or generalized to involve large areas of the body. Also called “atopic dermatitis,” eczema first becomes evident in either infancy or early childhood in the vast majority of cases. It is thought that the basic defect leading to eczema is the inability of the skin to retain moisture and this results in dry itchy skin. Scratching the affected areas, in turn, can cause inflamed skin and more itching.

Eczema is not, in general, caused by allergies. One notable exception is that infants and young children may develop eczema as a result of food allergy. Although the majority of children with eczema do not have food allergies as a cause for their skin rash, approximately one third of infants with moderate to severe eczema do have food allergies. As a general rule, the younger the child and the more severe the eczema, the more likely it is that food allergy may be playing a contributing role.

Pet Allergies

Pet allergies are a significant problem in the U.S. as more than half of the homes in this country have one or more pets. Interestingly, more than 90% of homes have detectable levels of cat and dog allergens even if the family has never owned a pet! This is due to the “passive” carrying of animal dander on our clothing and footwear. Cat dander is a particularly potent allergen and can be a major contributing factor to asthma. Children are frequently exposed to animal allergens at school, and may experience flares of their allergy symptoms and asthma there.

Drug Allergies

Penicillin allergy is the most commonly diagnosed antibiotic allergy. In fact, approximately 10% of people in the U.S. are diagnosed with penicillin allergy. Interestingly, research has shown that the vast majority, up to 90% of people who carry a diagnosis of penicillin allergy are NOT allergic. Fortunately, there is testing available to determine whether or not someone is truly allergic to penicillin and related antibiotics (amoxicillin, Augmentin).

Reactions to medications are quite common and can be developed by anyone. Symptoms of a drug allergy include:

  • Hives or other types of skin rash

  • Abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms

  • Coughing or wheezing

  • Swelling of the hands, feet or joints

  • Severe allergic reaction involving several organ systems (anaphylaxis)

Allergy Testing

There are two basic methods of testing for allergy: skin tests and blood tests. Skin testing involves the application of a very small amount of liquid allergen to a testing device, which is used to make a tiny puncture in the skin. If an individual is allergic to that particular allergen (environmental, food or drug), a small hive will develop at the site of the puncture. The testing is very safe and the results are available within minutes. Since antihistamines can interfere with the test reaction, patients are asked to withhold all oral and topical antihistamines (see list) for five days prior to the appointment.

Blood tests are used most frequently for the diagnosis and management of food allergy. The laboratory can analyze the blood for the presence of “allergic antibodies” to a specific food and provide a numerical value, which can be used to confirm an allergy and also to help determine if a food allergy has resolved. The blood test can also be used to diagnose allergy to environmental allergens when skin testing is not performed. The blood test is generally not useful for the diagnosis of drug allergy.

About Asthma

Asthma is a disease in which the airways become blocked or narrowed. These effects are usually temporary, but they cause shortness of breath, breathing trouble, and other symptoms. If an asthma episode is severe, a person may need emergency treatment to restore normal breathing.

Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma. Many of the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are the same (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, and chest tightness). However, allergic asthma is triggered by inhaling allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollens, mold, etc. Through a complex reaction, these allergens cause the passages in the airways of the lungs to become inflamed and swollen.

Asthma can also be caused by air pollutants, respiratory infections, exercise, weather conditions, strong emotional change, certain medications or it can be hereditary.

Treatment

There are many things that you can do to take control of your asthma and minimize its impact on your life.

Because each case of asthma is different, treatment needs to be tailored for each person. One general rule that does apply, though, is removing the things in your environment that you know are factors that make your asthma worse. When these measures are not enough, it may be time to try one of the many medications that are available to control symptoms.

Testing

If you or your child are having problems breathing on a regular basis, visit a doctor immediately. Knowing what to expect during the diagnostic process and how your doctor arrives at a diagnosis may help.

Common Diagnostic Techniques:

  • Personal and medical history

  • Overall physical examination

  • Lung function tests

Diagnosing asthma in children

The procedures used to diagnose asthma in children under the age of 5 are slightly different. Children this age usually aren’t given a breathing test. Instead, the doctor asks about certain signs and symptoms and prescribes a bronchodilator if he or she thinks it might be asthma. If the bronchodilator is helpful in reducing your child’s signs and symptoms, that is a sign that your child may have asthma.

Exercise-induced asthma

Exercise-induced asthma is triggered by physical activity. Symptoms of this kind of asthma may not appear until after several minutes of sustained exercise. The kind of physical activities that can bring on asthma symptoms include not only exercise, but also laughing, crying, and exposure to cold air. The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma usually go away within a few hours. With proper treatment, a child with exercise-induced asthma does not need to limit his or her overall physical activity.

Inhalers

Asthma inhalers are the most effective way of delivering lifesaving medications to those with asthma and other lung diseases. Whether you have asthma or care for someone who does, it is important to know more about asthma inhalers, including how to use one correctly.

Asthma inhalers can deliver drugs in a variety of ways, including the following:

Metered dose inhalers (MDIs)

A metered dose inhaler (MDI) delivers asthma medication through a small, handheld aerosol canister. The metered dose inhaler gently puffs the medicine into your mouth when you press down on the inhaler, and you breathe the medicine in slowly and deeply.

Dry powder inhalers (DPIs)

Dry powder asthma inhalers require you to breathe in rapidly and deeply as the drug enters your lungs. These asthma inhalers may be difficult to use, especially during an asthma attack when you cannot fully catch a deep breath.

If you are a new patient, please follow the instructions on the New Patients page.

BEFORE YOUR APPOINTMENT

Please bring the following items on the date of your appointment:

  • Four patient registration forms (listed below)

  • List of all current medications

  • Insurance cards

  • Referral (if required)

PATIENT REGISTRATION

Patient Registration Form (in printable PDF format).

HIPAA CONSENT FORM

HIPAA Consent Form (in printable PDF format).

HEALTH HISTORY FORM

Health History Form (in printable PDF format).

PAYMENT SERVICES FORM

Payment Services Form (in printable PDF format).

Insurance

We participate with the following insurance carriers. Please check with your insurance carrier to verify coverage and whether a referral is required.

  • Aetna

  • AmeriHealth

  • Beech Street

  • Choice Care / Humana

  • Cigna

  • Community Care Network

  • Consumer Health Network

  • Devon Health Services

  • Empire BCBS

  • Empire Plan

  • First Health Network

  • Emblem Health (PPO Only)

  • Great West Healthcare

  • Healthcare Payers Coalition

  • Health Net

  • Horizon BCBS

  • Local 1199

  • Medicare

  • Multiplan/PHCS

  • National Preferred Provider Network

  • Oxford

  • Qualcare (PPO Only)

  • Three Rivers Providers Network

  • Tricare

  • United Healthcare

  • USA Managed Care Organization

Please bring the following items on the date of your appointment:

  • Four patient registration forms (listed below)

  • List of all current medications

  • Insurance cards

  • Referral (if required)

You CAN NOT be on the following medications for 3 days prior to your appointment:

Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Chlortrimeton (chlorpheniramine), Atarax (hydroxyzine) and any over the counter allergy medications.

You CAN NOT be on the following medications for 7 days prior to your appointment:

Alavert, Claritin, ClaritinD, (any product containing loratidine), Zyrtec or Zyrtec-D (any product containing cetirizine), Clarinex (desloratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine), Xyzal (levocetirizine)

You CAN NOT be on the following nasal sprays for 7 days prior to your appointment:

Astelin (azelastine), Dymista, Patanase (olapatadine), Astepro

You CAN NOT be on the following eye drops for 7 days prior to your appointment:

Patanol, Pataday, Pazeo (any product containing olapatadine), Zaditor, Alaway (any product containing ketotifen), Optivar (azelastine), Elestat (epinastine), Lastacaft, Naphcon-A, Opcon-A.

PATIENT REGISTRATION

Patient Registration Form (in printable PDF format).

HIPAA CONSENT FORM

HIPAA Consent Form (in printable PDF format).

HEALTH HISTORY FORM

Health History Form (in printable PDF format).

PAYMENT SERVICES FORM

Payment Services Form (in printable PDF format).

ALLERGY AND ASTHMA CENTER OF NORTHERN NEW JERSEY

500 Piermont Road
Suite 304
Closter, NJ 07624

PHONE 201.564.7777
FAX 201.564.7776

HOURS

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9 – 5
Wednesday 11 – 7

DIRECTIONS

Just 5 minutes from Exit 2 off the Palisades Parkway.

And 15 minutes from Exit 168 off The Garden State Parkway.

For complete directions, please click the Google Map on the right-hand side of this page.