Allergies Took His Breath Away, Drops Gave it Back

Allergy drops have made a huge, positive difference in the life of nine-year old Faris J. from Tulsa, OK.

Allergy drops have made a huge, positive difference in the life of nine-year old Faris,  from Tulsa, OK.

Since shortly after he was born nine years ago, Faris from Tulsa, Oklahoma has been allergic to tree pollen. So allergic, he often found it difficult to breathe. And with Tulsa’s temperate climate, his allergy symptoms — which trigger asthma attacks, as well — typically persist year round. But one year ago, he started taking allergy drops and, in the words of his ecstatic mother, Michelle, “the drops literally changed his life! He can breathe now!”

Not only can he breathe, Faris recently returned from sleepover summer camp, in the woods, which he enjoyed without symptoms. In addition, he’s signed up to play soccer this fall for the first time, a feat which would have been impossible before. Previously, Faris used nasal sprays and took twice the ADULT dosage of Claritin daily. In addition, he also regularly used QNasal, Singulair, Qvar and an emergency inhaler. He has now stopped Claritin entirely and no longer requires daily nasal spray, though he does maintain his asthma medication as a precaution.

Faris heard about the drops on a visit to his doctor’s office, KIDS Pediatric & Adolescent Care, an AllerVision-affiliated provider in Tulsa. Sammi Byrne, a nurse there, told Faris and Michelle about the drops and Faris was eager to try. “He could not be a happier customer,” said Michelle, beaming.

“We are ecstatic with Faris’ response to the allergy drops,”Sammi expressed. “It is a unique opportunity for our office to be able to provide testing in a familiar environment and offer a less invasive form of treatment to our patients,” 

Now that he is happily and carefully taking allergy drops, both Michelle and Faris are excited about all the normal activities he can finally take part in, starting with breathing.

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The What, Where and When of Allergies

Maybe you’ve had an allergy test and you have a list of allergens that cause your symptoms. (If not, click here and AllerVision can help you find a provider who will give you the answers you deserve!) But unless you’re a botanist, you probably don’t know what most of those allergens looks like. And even if you do, you may not know when you need to watch out for them. Don’t worry, we have you covered! …

Click on the caption under the image at right to visit the AllerVision allergy map. Once there, click on your region of the country to see the trees, weeds and grasses that cause the worst allergy problems in your area. (AllerVision-affiliated providers test you for sensitivity to those pollens when you visit them for an allergy evaluation.) If you hover over the names of the plants, you’ll see pictures and the season(s) in which each allergen does the most damage. Take the seasons listed with a grain of salt, though — global climate change is, well, changing the environment. Many doctors and allergy specialists blame those shifts for the huge increases in pollen — and, consequently, allergy symptoms — produced each year.

That said, if you’re experiencing allergy symptoms or generally not feeling well right about now, there’s a good chance you can blame pollen from grasses including Rye, Bermuda and Red Top, among many others. As summer fades to fall, weeds become the more primary villain, with Ragweed topping the list as public enemy number one. Pollen tends to take a rest in early winter, but come late winter and early spring, Ash, Alder Cypress and other trees begin spewing pollen like there’s no tomorrow — and allergy patients suffer mightily.

Unfortunately, indoor allergens never go away. Dust, pet dander, cockroaches and mold can cause allergy misery all year long. The allergy symptoms they trigger tend to stand out in the winter because people spend so much time indoors but even in mid-summer any one of them can be the cause of your discomfort.

Given that outdoor allergies are cyclical, you may be able to stuff yourself with medication until your worst season is over — but next year you’ll experience the same problem. Or, you can turn to immunotherapy, which teaches your body to ignore allergens so the disease goes into remission for years. Immunotherapy lets you enjoy many, many seasons without symptoms. To learn more, click here so you can stop worrying about allergies wherever you are, whatever the season.

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The Important Difference Between Clinical Allergy and Allergy Sensitization

A doctor's review of patients' medical history is as important as skin test results in diagnosing clinical allergies.

A doctor’s review of patients’ medical history is as important as skin test results in diagnosing clinical allergies.

I’m sure you have patients come into your office and say: “I was once tested by an allergist and told I was allergic to everything green!” I’m  always dismayed when I hear that patients were given results in this manner. Almost no one is allergic to “everything green.” Patients may be sensitized to multiple allergens but most likely they’re not allergic to them all. Making the distinction between clinical allergy and allergy sensitization requires the doctor to study each patient’s health history in conjunction with allergy test results.

Let’s demonstrate with a food allergy example… A patient visited my office and told me that he attended a party and ate a piece of cake. Within 15 minutes, he developed hives (urticarial) all over his body. He wasn’t sure what was in the cake but was worried about what he should avoid in the future. I tested him and the results showed a positive for tree nuts — walnuts, cashews and pistachios. The skin tests also showed positive for milk and eggs, but he told me that he eats eggs and drinks milk all the time without a problem. We found out that the cake contained walnuts, so I diagnosed him with walnut and tree nut allergy. I explained that his positive allergy tests to egg and milk demonstrated that he has allergic sensitization to the raw pure proteins in those foods, but, with no clinical complaints, he can still continue to eat them.

Here is another example of a potentially confusing situation that you may encounter using the AllerVision skin testing panels: you test a patient and find she is allergic to several tree pollens, grass pollens and ragweed pollen. The patient’s history says she only has symptoms in the spring — from March until June. She has no symptoms in the fall. My assessment would be that she has clinical allergy to the spring pollens, trees and grasses, and allergic sensitization to ragweed. This distinction becomes important not just in educating the patient, but in determining the patient’s course of immunotherapy. In this case, you might decide to treat the patient for the trees and grasses but leave the weeds out of the equation.

The allergy world is buzzing with research on diagnostic techniques to delineate clinical allergies more clearly. One company is working on a blood test that involves Resolve Component Testing. That measures a protein called Ara h2 — highly specific for peanut allergy. Preliminary studies indicate 95% accuracy. In the meantime, don’t forget the importance of clinical history in conducting the “detective work” required to distinguish clinical allergy from allergy sensitization. And remember that, as always, the AllerVision clinical team is available to work with you and discuss your cases any time you have questions.

Dr. Dean Mitchell

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The Allergy Clock is Ticking: Spring Ahead, Don’t Fall Behind in Treatment

Spring usually brings beautiful weather — and lots of allergies.

Spring usually brings beautiful weather — and lots of allergies.

It’s been a brutal winter throughout most of the country. Once we get even a few consecutive days with weather in the 60’s and sunshine, everyone will rush outside for extra-long lunch breaks. My New York City office is right around the corner from Central Park, which is flooded with fresh-air-seekers of all ages as soon as spring emerges. For individuals who suffer with allergies, excitement for Spring is tempered with the weary anticipation of inevitable symptoms. However, with the right strategy and treatment all of your patients can be enjoying the blossoming of flowers and the sweet smell of Spring.

The first step in helping your Spring allergy patients is identifying them! The best strategy is identifying them before the pollen starts to skyrocket. How can you do this? Run a report of your billing codes for April, May, and June, filtering for the diagnosis of sinusitis, asthma, otitis, dermatitis, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, and, yes, allergic rhinitis. This list will provide you with a valuable group of patients who notoriously wait until their allergy symptoms are severe to seek treatment from your office. Remember, most allergy medications are over-the-counter and patients are taught by their pharmacies and big pharma marketing to take treatment into their own hands. The problem is, most of these medications are not nearly effective enough to provide true relief when the pollen counts are high and patients’ symptoms are at their worst. My recommendation is that you contact these patients – as you would your flu patients before the season – and inspire them to come and get evaluated for a pre-treatment program before it’s too late.

The typical early Spring pollen culprits are the trees. The initial pollen in March comes from the Maple and Elm trees, soon followed in April by Birch and Oak. (The AllerVision Facebook page has featured a full-scale “Field Guide” of allergenic trees. Check it out at If your patients suffer with Spring allergies, they need to know these pollens can start early in the season if the weather warms up. The AllerVision screening and skin testing program will help uncover the connection between pollens symptoms, and encourage your patients to prepare.  The worst parts of this allergy season are typically the beginning of Spring and the time between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Why does it worsen in the later period? This is usually double-whammy time: tree pollens still float around as grass pollen starts its surge. Again, using the allergy skin test, the gold standard, enables you to set out a plan for your patient to beat the perceived enemy at it’s own game.

Once you identify your tree and grass pollen patients, it’s time to take action; get them started on Nasalcrom immediately. It’s an effective, safe, cromolyn sodium nasal spray designed to stabilize mast cells. The caveat is that it works best if started a few weeks before the pollen counts are high. The other great option, that is now over-the-counter but it is rarely recommended by doctors, is Nasacort.

Of course, there is only ONE disease-modifying treatment for allergic disease: immunotherapy. Your allergy sufferers deserve the option of definitive resolution. And they especially love the fact that immunotherapy, unlike the other options, is not a drug. Your patients will appreciate the natural option that fixes the problem with almost no side effects — who wouldn’t?! Allergy drops or shots are the solution to Spring and your patients’ ticket to the great outdoors!

The clock is ticking: Find those patients before they find your office in a miserable state yet again!

– Dr. Dean Mitchell

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