By Chelsea Pyne
With the anticipated beauty of spring, we look forward to welcoming back green plants, warm weather, and outdoor activities. However, for allergy sufferers, spring is often accompanied by unwanted symptoms. Although pollen, mold, and insects have their place in the natural world, they can create difficulty with breathing, sleeping, and even performing daily activities for those with allergies. Fortunately, there are many solutions to help ease allergic patients into the spring season and beyond.
In fact, people with all types of allergies – whether it is from pets, pollen, or simply dust mites – can be desensitized with allergen immunotherapy. Immunotherapy or “allergy shots” is a form of treatment aimed at decreasing your sensitivity to substances in the environment called allergens. These allergens are identified by allergy testing which can be performed through a simple skin test. Immunotherapy reduces allergy symptoms and is very successful in treating allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”), asthma, allergic conjunctivitis, eczema, and insect sting allergies. Immunotherapy has also been shown to prevent the development of new allergies and asthma and can lead to long-lasting relief of allergy symptoms even after treatment is stopped.
Allergy Partners was formed to help allergy sufferers. Allergy Partners is the nation’s largest medical practice solely dedicated to the treatment of asthma and allergies comprised of over 100 board-certified allergists with multiple locations across the United States. They provide families with expert allergy and asthma care and strive to be recognized as a leader in the development and delivery of high-quality healthcare for patients with asthma and allergic disease. Their physicians combine an in-depth medical history and physical examination along with state-of-the-art diagnostic testing to establish if you have asthma or any sensitivity to allergens. The expert staff then identifies and treats underlying triggers to manage symptoms so that allergic reactions can be better controlled with the least amount of medication necessary. Their vast care network of providers works together to promote education, research, and innovation in the field of allergy and asthma care.
Allergy Partners of the Piedmont has been treating children and adults with a multitude of different allergies, asthma, and immune problems in Kernersville for almost twenty years. They also have offices in Winston Salem, Mount Airy, and North Wilkesboro. The Kernersville team of providers consists of board-certified allergists Elizabeth Scannell, MD and Ingrid Hoffmann, MD along with Miriam Dineen PA-C. Often times, it is hard to understand what causes allergies and how they can best be treated. Dr. Scannell explained, “I feel that communication is of the utmost importance for excellent patient care. I particularly enjoy educating patients and parents about their individual health problems and forming a plan together to improve their symptoms.”
Most people do not know all their allergies or even how severe a reaction can be. For example, allergies from stinging insects such as wasps, hornets, bees, yellow jackets, and fire ants affect over 9.5 million Americans, including three percent of adults and up to one percent of children. Getting stung by a bee is never pleasant, but for some, stings can cause severe life-threatening reactions. There are 40-100 deaths in the US per year from insect allergies. An adult who has experienced a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction (called anaphylaxis) with a sting has a 60-70% chance of having a similar or more severe reaction with the next. Fortunately, venom immunotherapy (an allergy shot) is 95-98% effective in preventing such reactions. The risk of repeat severe reactions can be significantly decreased and venom immunotherapy can be lifesaving for allergic individuals.
Allergy Partners also has therapies for asthma, eczema, and hives called Biologics. A Biologic is a medication made from the cells of a living organism such as bacteria that is then modified to target specific molecules in humans. It is not as complicated as it sounds. For asthma, Biologics target antibodies, inflammatory molecules, or cell receptors. By targeting these molecules, Biologics work to disrupt the pathways that lead to inflammation which causes asthma symptoms. With asthma, the primary benefit of Biologics has been a decrease in the frequency of asthma exacerbations, including emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and the need for oral steroids. They also reduce asthma symptoms and the dosage of other controller medications which results in fewer missed school and workdays. Biologics have been found to improve lung function in patients with severe asthma. If you have asthma and think you may benefit from Biologic therapy, a simple lab test can determine if you are a good candidate. Biologics have also been very successful in treating hives and eczema that have been unresponsive to traditional medical therapy.
This allergy treatment has made residents in the Triad more at ease while performing everyday activities. The Triad itself is what lured these incredible treatments to our neighborhoods. After moving to Winston-Salem in 1999 for her Allergy and Immunology fellowship at Wake Forest, Dr. Hoffmann and her husband fell in love with the area, culture, and people here. She has been practicing in the area for almost twenty years. “My interest in allergy and immunology stems not only from a fascination with the immune system but also because I have allergies myself. In fact, one of my daughters suffers from food and nasal allergies in addition to asthma. So as a parent, I have had first-hand experience coping with these diseases.” Dr. Hoffmann enjoys seeing patients of all ages, and her special areas of interest include environmental nasal allergies, asthma, and food allergies. “I have found that appropriate treatment of allergic disease can dramatically improve quality of life,” she added.
From food allergies, pet allergies, metal allergies, latex allergies, drug allergies, sinusitis, hives, chronic cough, allergic rhinitis, immune deficiency, eczema, and more… Allergy Partners can help. Information about a newly diagnosed medical condition and treatment can be overwhelming. Allergy Partners has created an online resource center to ensure that patients can easily access the information to take control of their medical condition and improve their quality of life. Allergy Partners’ expert physicians have written condition profiles as a resource to help you learn more about your diagnosis and treatment options. This can be found at www.AllergyPartners.com/Piedmont.
Once your allergies are under control, you have one less thing to worry about. Take a deep breath and enjoy every season. Allergy Partners is located at 851 Old Winston Rd., Ste. 103 Kernersville. Visit www.AllergyPartners.com/Piedmont or call 336.993.9995 for more information.