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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When Pollen Strikes!

When the wind blows, the pollen inside these sacks will be released, filling the air for miles.

When the wind blows, the pollen inside these sacks will be released, filling the air for miles.

One of the major causes of allergic disease, such as allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), is airborne pollen. All plants produce some pollen as part of their reproductive cycle. There are thousands of plant species that grow in the United States but only a small number of those are significant sources of allergenic pollen. Plants that DO produce important allergens have several characteristics in common: First, they are wind pollinated rather than insect pollinated. Next, they produce pollen that is buoyant and is spread readily by the wind. Because wind pollination is relatively inefficient, these types of plants have to produce huge quantities of pollen to keep their species alive.

To be clinically important, allergenic plants must be abundant in an area. Trees such as oak and maple grow over hundreds of acres with pollen traveling up to 200 miles; ragweed can colonize large fields and affect patients for many miles around; and grass allergens can cover hundreds of acres. Despite what your nose and eyes may suggest, brightly colored flowers are rarely allergenic. Often they are insect pollinated, and they typically don’t produce pollen that can be spread by the wind. However, the pollen from allergenically important plants lands all over their beautiful flowers, and THAT pollen is what your body rejects when you stop to smell the roses. Those pollens are also often at least part of the cause of your allergic symptoms when you snuggle up to your favorite pet. Fur is a great landing spot for all kinds of pollen!

Tree pollen allergy affects millions of people. Many allergenic trees are abundant and large, shedding and spreading huge quantities of pollen. Typically, trees shed their pollen in the spring and are the first species each year to affect patients. In warmer climates, like California and Florida, pollen season often begins in February. With the late winter on the east coast this year, pollen season there is just reaching full swing.

Because pollen can travel so far, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of your allergies. That’s where an allergy test and evaluation comes in. We encourage you to ask your doctor about an allergy skin test — a painless procedure than can tell you in just 15 minutes specifically what you are allergic to. If your doctor doesn’t offer this test in his or her office, AllerVision can help you find one who does — or can talk to your doctor on your behalf.

If pollen is the cause of your allergies, it’s virtually impossible to avoid. You can take medication to temporarily alleviate symptoms. But with medication you’re only covering the symptoms up, and next time you encounter the pollen you’ll have the same reaction. Immunotherapy, on the other hand, teaches your immune system to ignore the pollen and thereby puts your allergies into remission — usually for years or decades. You can learn more about immunotherapy here.

Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds are likely to keep your immune system busy until the fall or winter, and then return again next year. Now that you know what you’re up against, you may want to ask your provider about immunotherapy — so you can enjoy the great outdoors instead of suffering from it.

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This blog includes information from ALK-Abelló “Virtual Pollen Guide” DVD, used with permission. The company offers a helpful patient education website at


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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