By Dr. Brooke Azie-Rentz
It is the end of the year, wow it has gone fast! Most of you are thinking about holiday parties and decorating and what to give up for the New Year…I am thinking about how I can help our patients get every last penny out of their insurance before the deductable renews in the New Year and how to prevent illness in 2020. The most logical thing of course to address both these issues is… spring time allergies!
Here at AIM we offer Allergy Easy, a form of SLIT (sublingual immunotherapy). We offer skin scratch testing as well as treatments with these easy to take oral drops. The testing itself is something that insurance covers, hence why I am bringing it up now before the end of the year and before allergy season starts. Skin scratch testing for the 60 most common PNW allergies is not cheap, but it is covered by your insurance plan. The treatment is not. So getting this testing done before the New Year can save you some money on deductable as well as get you treating before the allergy symptoms start.
So what is SLIT? Most of us are used to the idea of allergy shots, or SCIT (subcutaneous immunotherapy), which consists of a serum made up of traces of allergens injected under the skin. This has been around for a long time but is time consuming and painful, requiring multiple visits to the doctor for a series of shots. SLIT came out in the mid 80s and works on the same principles but is more user-friendly because it doesn’t require any shots and can be dosed at home rather than multiple visits, and charges, to the doctor’s office. Studies have supported the efficacy of SLIT compared to SCIT and has found to be safe in kids under 5 and is the treatment of choice by most people when given the choice.
SLIT is not just a band-aid like OTC anti-histamines. When the body encounters pollen, in a normal, non-allergic individual, the body will just ignore the antigen and not mount a reaction. In those instances where the body attacks the antigen like an enemy, the body releases histamine into the blood stream which causes more blood to flow to the affected area, bringing along with it inflammation. This blood flow works to bring good parts of your immune system into the area, but also to move those allergens away from the area by ways of sneezing, tearing up or itching.
By starting SLIT therapy now, a few months before the spring pollens hit, you can desensitize your body before those allergens hit! This treatment works on spring allergies, dust, mold, dog and cat dander and many others. The entire treatment takes 3 months to complete, with most people reporting some relief around the 6 week mark. Up to 80% of patients never need to do the therapy again, they are desensitized! Of the 20% left, those people need to do a maintenance dropper 1x/year leading up to their allergic season, or if allergic to their immediate environment (i.e. living with a dog they are allergic to) they may need to do drops daily to minimize reactions.
So even though you are thinking about your Holiday gift buying or New Year’s resolutions, and not so much about how your allergies are going to be in April, we at AIM are always thinking ahead. So maximize your insurance benefits at the end of the year and get a jump on your health in 2020 by making an appointment NOW to get tested and get started on treating your allergy symptoms.