Winter is finally almost over, but with those warm temperatures and flowers blooming it also brings along the time of year best known as ‘allergy season’. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology1, approximately 50 million people in the US are affected by allergic rhinitis (aka hay fever). In addition to environmental allergies being on the rise, so are food allergies in children with currently almost 6 million (or 8%) suffering from them. In fact, all allergic diseases, which include all allergies and asthma, are the fifth most prevalent chronic diseases in all ages.
Luckily, those of us in Winston Salem have a great resource and organization to go to for treating our allergies at the Allergy Partners of the Piedmont. For ease of access to all those in the Piedmont their practice offer five convenient locations in Advance, Kernersville, Mt. Airy, North Wilkesboro, and Winston Salem. In addition to offering multiple locations they also have various hours and working moms will love their evening hours at the Shot Clinic in the Winston Salem office.
I had the pleasure of interviewing three members of the team at Allergy Partners of the Piedmont for this article: Dr. Kent Nastasi, MD (Physician); Vonda Marlow, BS (Practice Manager); and Denise Prince, CMA (Clinical Coordinator). Below are some common questions and answers that provide helpful information to those who suffer from allergies.
Q: When is it recommended to see an allergist?
A: The most common reasons for needing to see an allergist are:
- Not being able to adequately control systems with over the counter medications
- Symptoms severely affect the quality of life and sleep
- Having asthma, food or venom allergies (especially those that are severe and/or not well controlled)
- Need to get skin test for allergies, which is not typically available at a primary care giver
- More than 3 sinus infections within a year
- Desire to no longer take allergy medications
- Own pet but allergic so best route is to take shots to alleviate allergies and keep pets!
Q: What conditions do you treat in your offices?
A: Allergic Rhinitis, Asthma, Eczema, Hives, Food Allergies, Drug Allergies, Venom Allergies
Q: How do you recommend people prepare and survive for the 2014 allergy season?
A: There are several ways and methods to this and much is dependent on each individual’s allergies and severity:
- If stopped restart taking allergy medications near the end of winter, especially nasal sprays as they take a couple weeks to really kick in
- Kick off the season by doing a complete spring cleaning at home
- It’s best to start allergy shots in the winter (for spring allergy suffers) as they will be more effective over the course of a few months
- Take showers in the evening and also keep dirty clothes in a separate room after removing
- Try and avoid spending time outdoors in the early morning between 5 and 10 a.m.
- For dust mite allergies purchase special mattress and pillow covers that are dust mite proof
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water and do not hang dry any laundry
These are just some of the many methods and ways to ease symptoms for allergy suffers. At an allergist appointment they will give you additional information that is customized to each person’s specific allergens.
Q: What are some tips for controlling asthma?
A: One of the best ways to do so is keeping allergies and those symptoms under control. Also, always be prepared with inhalers and take prescribed preventative medications as directed.
Interesting fact: A person cannot outgrow asthma. A child can develop asthma from scar tissue from RSV infection but then the scar tissue will eventually heal making the asthma go away.
Q: With food allergies being on the rise with children what are some guidelines for introducing the commonly severe allergens (for instance: tree nuts, shell fish, peanuts)?
A: If there is no family history of these allergens then typically it is recommended that these foods can be introduced (one at a time) at 2 or 3 years old. If there is a family history then it is suggested to wait until the child is 5 years old.
Q: What are the key things to look for in an anaphylactic reaction?
A: The biggest indicator of anaphylaxis is symptoms effect multiple body systems; for example, having both hives and tongue and/or facial swelling. Other symptoms can include: vomiting, difficulty breathing, rashes and even losing consciousness.
Q: Who should get immunotherapy (allergy shots)?
A: Anyone who would like to get their allergies under control initially and then eliminated after several rounds. Allergy shots are strictly for those with environmental allergies and not for people with food, drug and venom allergies. Immunotherapy is relatively safe and it is extremely rare for someone to have a severe allergic reaction (in fact, as little as .03% have such a severe reaction). The only groups of people not recommended to get allergy shots are those with certain heart problems that need beta blockers (due to if an epi-pen was needed to be used), pregnant women, and young children who cannot communicate symptoms (typically under age 3 but dependent on each child).
For more information on allergies, asthma, and immunotherapy or to contact Allergy Partners of the Piedmont visit their website. Make sure to also ‘like’ them on Facebook for updates on their office and general information on allergies and asthma.
To learn a little more on food allergies and how to be prepared read this article.
** Writers Note: I can personally attest to the wonderful service the doctors and staff all provide at Allergy Partners of the Piedmont as both my daughter and I go there. My daughter also suffers from severe food allergies and has even been to the ER before for an anaphylactic reaction – read more on our story here. Allergy Partners of the Piedmont was and still is instrumental in maintaining her food allergies. Best of all, this practice truly cares about their patients and treats each as a unique individual not just another number like many medical practices tend to do these days.
1All statistics from American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology - http://www.acaai.org/allergist/news/Pages/Allergy_Facts.aspx