At Covenant, we find that one of the largest obstacles to getting allergy-related disease sufferers the help they need is a lack of understanding of just how much can be done. Effective allergy treatment can make a dramatic difference in a patient's life. Treatment options include avoidance measures, medication options and/or immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Allergy symptoms can be treated by complete avoidance of allergens with or without medications. This can include dust mite covers on mattresses and pillows; avoiding foods that trigger allergic reactions; putting pets outdoors instead of inside; removing carpeting from the bedroom or home; use of a de-humidifier and cleaning with a dilute bleach solution if mold is a risk.
Antihistamines and decongestants are the most commonly used medications to relieve the symptoms due to allergies. Antihistamines help to relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose and postnasal drip. It can also help with rashes and hives. Decongestants come in different forms and help reduce stuffiness by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose and sinus.
Antihistamines are available over the counter as well as by prescription. Over the counter antihistamines many cause drowsiness.
Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays reduce the swelling and inflammation that causes nasal congestion.
Corticosteroid creams/ointments relieve itching and can help stop the spread of rashes.
Oral Corticosteroids can be used to reduce swelling and stop severe allergic reactions.
Eye Drops can provide temporary relief from burning bloodshot eyes. Only prescription eye drops contain antihistamines and can bring relief to itchy swollen eyes.
Epinephrine comes in pre-measured self-injectable devices that are available by prescription only. Epinephrine is the only medicine that can help during a life threatening severe anaphylactic reaction.
The most effective treatment for moderate to severe allergies is allergen immunotherapy; known as "allergy shots." This is "natural" treatment in which the protein of the substance that triggers symptoms is injected into the patient. This eventually changes the immune system and prevents the body from overreacting to these allergens.
Patients receive gradually increasing doses and concentrations of the allergens to which he or she is allergic. Initially, patients receive two sets of injections once or twice a week. After about a year, injections are given every two weeks, then every three weeks and eventually just once a month. The complete regiment takes three to five years.
Oral Immunotherapy Tablet
Our most recent treatment option added is the oral immunotherapy tablet. The new treatment comes in the form of oral tablets and will be prescribed for grass and ragweed allergy. Advantages of the oral immunotherapy tablet is that the treatment can be taken at home, there is no build up dose requirement, there is little risk of severe allergic reaction, and the tablets work well to lower the allergy symptoms associated with grass and ragweed allergy. Currently two pharmaceutical companies have released the new drug. Merck produces Grastek, and Stallergenes produces Oralair.
For more information about this new treatment, contact our office at 423.468.3267 or schedule an appointment today. An article is also available under the Patient Education tab in Allergy & Asthma Articles and is titled New Treatment for Allergy Sufferers.
One new treatment option is an accelerated or "RUSH" immunotherapy schedule. Instead of two sets of injections per week, patients receive one set every 30 minutes over several hours. Clinical staff monitors patients during these treatments. Successful and timely completion of the initial vials using RUSH immunotherapy will allow patients to progress to every other week maintenance injections in about five months or less.
Another option for immunotherapy is called "Modified RUSH." With this procedure the patient receives one set of injections, waits 30 minutes then receives a second set. The patient is monitored closely during this treatment due to a slightly increased risk of adverse affects.
Acupuncture is one of the key components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and originated in Chine more than 2,000 years ago. It is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. The term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques.
The Acupuncture techniques that have been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands and electric stimulation. For more information about Acupuncture click here.