Allergies

Allergies

Are the allergy test and IT covered by insurance?

Yes, most insurance plans cover allergy testing and IT. Your insurance benefits will be verified prior to testing!

How are specific allergens selected for the IT treatment?

Allergens are selected based on your reaction to specific seasonal and perennial allergens during the allergy test in coordination with the assessment of your allergy history by your provider.

How can I benefit the most from my IT treatment?

Following your IT schedule and remaining compliant will help ensure you get the most benefit from your IT program!

How is the allergy test performed and is it painful?

The testing in NOT painful! A multiple headed scratch test devise gently pricks the skin's surface. It takes approximately 15 minutes after the test is performed to measure the allergic response. A positive test will appear as a raised, red bump on the skin, similar to a mosquito bite.

How long before I can expect to see my allergy symptoms improve on the IT treatment?

You may experience some symptom relief within the first year. Most people start to see improvement on IT within 2-6 months of starting!! Consult your provider if you have not experienced symptom improvement within the first year of treatment.

How long does the allergy testing take?

The test takes approximately 30 minutes – 15 minutes to administer and 15 minutes to register the results – so you don't have to wait long to learn the possible cause of your allergies!

How long will I have to be on IT?

The course of IT varies by individual, but symptom relief is often experienced during the first year of therapy, sometimes even sooner! Completing three to five years of therapy has shown long term benefits.

How often will I see my provider to discuss my allergies?

You will have an initial visit with your provider to discuss performing the allergy testing and after the testing, we will discuss your results and why IT is recommended. You will then have periodic visits to pick up new IT vials and will receive an evaluation of your progress with the treatment. The frequency of provider visits may vary based on a number of factors, but you will typically see your provider when you pick up your vials at month two, six and at the end of your IT year.

How soon will I see results from IT?

Relief from allergies varies by individual, however, relief can occur within the first few months of therapy.

Is IT effective in eliminating allergies?

YES!!! IT is very effective in greatly decreasing or even eliminating the symptoms of allergies. Up to 85%* report a curative effect or a significant reduction in allergy symptoms.

My allergy symptoms are only in the Spring and Summer. Can I receive my IT treatment just at that time?

Limiting your IT to just the Spring and Summer does not give your immune system time to adapt to allergens which cause your symptoms. IT injections are required year-round to experience the long term benefits of treatment.

What are the benefits of testing and IT?

One in five people suffer from symptomatic allergies. These symptoms can vary greatly from minor discomfort to severe disability. The cost of allergies can be significant when factoring in lost productivity and days off from work and school. Combined with expensive drugs that serve only to mask symptoms, the average cost to patients can be upwards of $2,000 per year.

What if I am currently taking antihistamines and IT?

In order to achieve the most accurate test results you should discontinue any antihistamines, over-the-counter medication or prescription, for at least three to seven days depending on the medication, prior to allergy testing. You may safely resume the use of antihistamines once you begin IT. An antihistamine therapy regimen is recommended during the build-up phase of IT.

What is actually in the injections?

Your IT solution contains (or may be comprised of) naturally occurring aero allergens and environmental allergens to which you have tested positive and report symptoms from exposure. There allergens can be pollen (trees, grasses, weeds), cat/dog dander, molds and dust mites.

What is immunotherapy?

Allergen immunotherapy (IT) is a form of treatment aimed at decreasing your sensitivity to substances called allergens. Immunotherapy involves introducing increasing amounts of an allergen to a patient over several months. Allergen immunotherapy is sometimes referred to as allergy shots.

Which allergens will I be tested for?

You will be tested for the most frequent geographically specific seasonal and perennial allergens in your area. You will be tested for dust mites, proteins from pet hair and dander, trees, grass, and weed pollens, molds and cockroach allergens. You will not be tested or treated for food or stinging insect related allergies.

Who can be tested?

Adults and children over the age of two years can be tested for allergies. This is especially helpful for patients who suffer with allergic asthma, allergic pneumonitis, conjunctivitis, undiagnosed cough, atopic dermatitis (skin irritation), insect allergy, rhinitis, sinusitis, allergic urticaria (hives), and angioedema (similar to hives, but beneath the skin).

If you have any additional questions about allergy testing or immunotherapy, please feel free to call the office and talk to the allergy specialist at Swisher Internal Medicine at 828-324-0100!

Swisher Medicine Allergy Specialist

*Sources:

  • Allergen immunotherapy: A practice parameter third update. Linda Cox, MD, Harold Neson, MD, and Richard Lockey, MD. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. December 23, 2010.
  • Fredrick M. Schaffer, MD, Lisa Welchel, FNPc, Hope Soliz, Tim Crimmins, Myla Ebeling, PhD, Tom Hulsey, PhD, Larry Garner, CPT,BA. “The Safety of Home Immunotherapy Utilizing the United Allergy Services Protocol. Manuscript in preparation. 2012.
  • American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergy treatment. Available at: http://acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Treatment/Pages/default.aspx Accessed February 1, 2011.
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Airborne allergens. Something in the air. NIH Publication No. 03-7045. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/allergicdiseases/documents/airborne_allergens.pdf Accesses February 1, 2011.
  • Möller C, Drebord S, Ferdousi HA, et al. Pollen immunotherapy reduces the development of asthma in children with seasonal rhinoconjunctivitis (the PAT-Study). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002; 109:251-256