Five Ways to Cut the Cost of Allergy Relief from Money magazine May 3, 2013
1. Avoiding treatment can be costly
Nearly a third of adults have allergies. Suffer through the symptoms, and you could pay the price at work. During allergy attacks, one study found, employees lost more than two hours of productivity a day. If you regularly take over-the-counter pills, get tested to pinpoint your allergens and fine-tune treatment. The common skin-prick test is faster than a blood test and may save you a second office trip, says North Aurora, Ill. allergist Sakina Bajowala.
2. A prescription pays in more than one way
What your doctor prescribes may be more effective. For example, a steroidal nasal spray like Flonase beats an OTC spray, which shouldn't be used for more than a few days because it's habit forming, says Richard Madden, a physician in Belen, N.M. Even when an OTC drug like Claritin or Zyrtec works fine for you, ask for a prescription anyway. That way you can pay for the pills with the pretax dollars in your flexible spending account.
3. Shots pay off over time
Your doctor may suggest immunotherapy -- shots one or two times a week for up to eight months, tapering down to monthly over three to five years. A recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that immunotherapy patients saw 38% lower treatment costs owing to fewer overall doctor visits and drugs. "You put in your work and expense upfront and get all the benefit down the road," says Bajowala.
4. An alternative treatment is on you
Acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis, and even eating local honey are touted as treatments, but there's little clinical data to prove widespread effectiveness over the long term. While your insurance may pay for a $100 acupuncture session for back pain, allergies are less likely to be covered. One homebrew that gets a thumbs-up from doctors: nasal irrigation. No need to spring for a $100 contraption -- a $20 drugstore variety with distilled water is fine for most.
5. For gear, there's no need to splurge
The best air purifier is your air conditioner, says Gaithersburg, Md., allergist Jacqueline Eghrari-Sabet. Just add a HEPA filter to trap pollen, dust, and mold spores. With no AC, a basic $50 HEPA air purifier works fine, especially in small rooms. When you're allergic to heavier allergens that settle quickly -- like dust mites and cat hair -- air purifiers may not help much, though. Get a HEPA filter for your vacuum and clean often.
Our spring allergy season in New Mexico is now in full swing and our offices are extremely busy! The spring allergy season kicks off with tree pollen--Juniper, Elm, and Cedar, to be followed by Cottonwood and others later. Grasses and weeds start to cause pollen problems in mid-summer. Many of you have already experienced that yearly increase in nasal and eye symptoms. While pollen allergies lead to the more obvious symptoms of runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes, allergic reactions to pollen often lead to some less obvious symptoms.
Allergies are one of the leading triggers for asthma. If you experience more coughing, bronchitis, chest tightness, shortness of breath or wheezing during the pollen season, these symptoms may be triggered by your allergies. Allergies also increase the rate of sinus and ear infections. Allergic inflammation can prevent the ears and sinuses from draining properly which in turn makes you more likely to develop infections. Getting control of your spring allergies will not only provide relief from your nasal and eye symptoms, it often reduces your need for asthma medications and antibiotics.
Minimizing your exposure to spring pollens will reduce your allergy symptoms. Some basic avoidance tips include the following:
· Keep windows closed to prevent pollens from drifting into your home.
· Minimize early morning outdoor activity because pollen is usually emitted between 5:00 & 10:00 in the morning.
· Keep your car windows closed when traveling.
· Stay indoors when the pollen count is reported to be high and on windy days when pollen may be present in higher amounts in the air.
· Machine dry bedding and clothing. Pollen may collect in laundry if it is hung outside to dry.
Try to establish your bedroom as a particularly "clean zone." Consider showering and washing your hair in the evening instead of the morning so that your bedding doesn't collect pollen. Also, most allergy sufferers benefit from using a good air purification unit in the bedroom.
O f course, avoidance is not always practical. We want to be outdoors and enjoy the spring weather which means exposing ourselves to pollen. Regular use of your allergy medications such as nasal steroids and antihistamines will help control your allergy symptoms. If medications are not providing complete relief or if you prefer to avoid regular medication use, consider allergy shots (allergy immunotherapy) to gain better control of your allergies. This non-medication treatment contains natural extracts of allergens and slowly reduces the severity of your allergic reactions. Over and over this has been shown to be the most effective treatment for pollen allergies. Allergy shots are effective for 85% of patients, reduce the need for medication and in the long run are less expensive than medication use.
You do not need to suffer with allergy symptoms. Relief is available. If you are experiencing spring allergies, make an appointment now by calling us at (505) 820-9870.
This portable air purifier doesn’t just clean air, it’s designed to provide a healthier living environment. The SG Blue Otwo Purifier offers such health benefits, it’s the only product to be endorsed by renowned allergy and asthma specialists at Allergy Partners, PA, the nation’s largest single-specialty physician practice. This purifier creates a Clean Air Zone where it attracts and destroys 99.9% of airborne pollutants. Allergy sufferers and individuals with COPD and other respiratory problems can breathe easier as the Otwo air purifier attracts, captures and destroys particles (dust, pollen, pet dander, smoke,) VOC’s (paints, cleaning supplies,) biologics (bacteria, molds, viruses,) and odors.
This compact dynamo outperforms traditional HEPA filtration, operates quietly, uses very little energy (only 6 watts) and features low cost maintenance. There are no expensive filters to replace as SG Blue’s Otwo purifier uses a patented, exclusive BioOx solution to break down and destroy airborne pollutants. You need only 1 bottle of BioOx detergent per year and water, a combination that will save you hundreds of dollars over the years compared to replacement filter costs.
SG Blue created this purifier to provide a meaningful solution for cleaner, healthier air. They brought 15 years of experience in industrial and commercial air purification into the development of the Otwo air purifier for home use. This compact purifier (9x9x11) can be placed in any room to capture and destroy particles within a 450 sq. ft. area.
Our Allergy Partners office now has these air purifiers for sale for $270 plus tax.
|Frequently we are asked about the difference between wheat allergy, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. This is a complicated issue that has many different components. Gluten is a protein that is found in foods that have been processed from wheat and related grains including barley and rye. The diseases listed above represent distinct abnormal responses to either gluten or wheat.
Classic wheat allergy is closely related in pathogenesis to other classic food allergies, like peanut allergy. These conditions are termed IgE-mediated diseases because of the specific type of immune response that leads to symptoms. Other examples of IgE-mediated diseases include hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and some types of eczema and asthma. The symptoms of a classic wheat allergy may include hives or skin rash, vomiting, diarrhea, stuffy/runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, throat constriction or shortness of breath. These symptoms almost always occur within 2 hours of ingesting wheat. Large-scale studies of wheat allergy in the U.S. have not been conducted, but it’s estimated that approximately 0.4 – 0.5% of our population is allergic to wheat. Wheat allergy is typically outgrown by adulthood in about 65% of children. In terms of diagnosis of classic wheat allergy, there are both blood and skin tests that measure wheat IgE. The accuracy of these tests is moderate at best, so we sometimes have to perform food challenges (asking the patient to ingest wheat in a safe controlled environment like the clinic) to really determine if they have classic wheat allergy. If someone is truly wheat allergic, then strict avoidance of wheat is the cornerstone of management as well as treating any accidental ingestions with subsequent reactions appropriately (if severe reaction, epinephrine is used).
Celiac disease is a condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten, which can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine. Celiac disease is also known as gluten sensitive enteropathy, celiac sprue and nontropical sprue. The abnormal response of the immune system in this disease is completely separate from that of classic wheat allergy. Because of this, the symptoms are different and the way we diagnose this disease is distinct. Prototypical symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal discomfort or excessive gas. Because this disease in based in the gut, malabsorption can also be seen and lead to other diseases including osteopenia/osteoporosis and iron deficiency anemia. Other associated diseases can include diabetes mellitus, thyroid problems (usually hypothyroidism), dermatitis herpetiformis (intensely itchy, blistering skin rash that affects 15 – 25% of people with celiac disease), nervous system disorders and liver disease. Diagnosis of celiac disease consists of either a blood test and/or small bowel biopsy (the latter being the gold standard test). Both of these tests require that the patient continue eating a normal diet, including foods that contain gluten, at the time of sample collection. The cornerstone of treatment for celiac disease is complete elimination of gluten from the diet for life. Gluten is not only contained in the previously mentioned grains; it is also hidden as an ingredient in a large number of prepared foods, as well as medications and supplements. There are many on-line resources to help patients find safe foods and products, but it can be very difficult. Unlike classic wheat allergy, where the patient only needs to strictly avoid wheat, in celiac disease the patient must avoid all gluten containing products like wheat, rye and barley as well as many processed foods.
Gluten sensitivity is a different reaction to ingesting gluten. Symptoms can arise throughout the body and range from bloating, abdominal discomfort, pain or diarrhea to headaches and migraines, lethargy and tiredness, ADHD, muscular disturbances, neurologic symptoms as well as bone and joint pain. A study from the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research shows that gluten sensitivity is a different clinical entity versus celiac disease. A different immune mechanism, the innate immune response, comes into play in reactions of gluten sensitivity, as opposed to the long-term adaptive immune response that arises in celiac disease. Researchers believe that gluten sensitive reactions do not engender the same long-term damage to the intestine that untreated celiac disease can cause. These same researchers believe that this disease affects up to 6% of the population. There is no direct test for gluten sensitivity. The only “test” is a trial of a strictly gluten free diet. We recommend patients try this for one month to see if their symptoms improve. After that month, reintroduce gluten. If the symptoms decrease on the gluten-free diet and the re-emerge upon reintroduction, then gluten may very well be the cause. As with celiac disease, the only treatment is to strictly avoid gluten.
submitted by Dr. Ananth Thyagarajan in the Allergy Partners of Richmond, Virginia office
Approximately one person in ten has asthma. Understanding and taking control of your asthma is important! May is Asthma Awareness Month so now is the perfect time to find out what can cause or aggravate asthma, how to recognize the symptoms and what treatment options are available.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a common lung disorder in which the inner lining of the small breathing tubes of the lungs, the bronchioles, becomes inflamed and swollen. At times this leads to spasms or narrowing of these tubes. This may cause wheezing, shortness of breath, and/or tightness in the chest. Cough, especially with exercise or in the middle of the night, is particularly common in asthma. In mild asthma, the only symptom may be cough. Wheezing may not occur, or may only be heard by your doctor listening with a stethoscope.
Who Develops Asthma?
Asthma may develop at any age, but most commonly does so in early childhood, or mid-adulthood. Most cases that occur in childhood improve greatly over time and with appropriate treatment. Many cases that occur in adulthood respond well to treatment, but remain chronic.
Approximately one person in ten has asthma. Many people with mild asthma may not even be aware they have it. The tendency in asthma is often inherited, and is often strongly related to allergies, particularly in childhood. The majority of children with asthma have allergies that cause or significantly aggravate their asthma.
What Causes Asthma?
As with many medical conditions, a combination of heredity and environment plays the biggest role in both causing and aggravating asthma. The most common triggers of asthma are allergies, respiratory infections, exercise, and cigarette smoke.
The allergens that most commonly trigger asthma are inhalants, such as house dust mites, pollens, molds, and animal danders. When the allergens are inhaled into the lungs, they directly provoke asthma by causing swelling of the lining of the bronchioles and mucus production. Asthma is indirectly worsened by allergies for two reasons: first, nasal congestion interferes with the normal filtering and humidification of inspired air; and second, the postnasal drainage from allergies aggravates the cough and wheeze associated with asthma.
Viral respiratory infections commonly cause asthma to flare temporarily, especially in young children, and account for some of the wintertime worsening seen in this age group. Smoldering sinus problems will worsen asthma as well.
Exercise, or any hyperventilation such that occurs with heavy laughing or emotional upset, will cause the bronchioles to tighten. This is because the asthmatic lung is overly sensitive to the sudden cooling and drying of the airway caused by rapid and deep breathing. For this reason, exercise in cooler weather often causes more trouble.
Cigarette smoking, both active and secondhand, is extremely harmful to patients with asthma. Smoke contains numerous toxic gases and particles that further irritate the already inflamed airway of the asthmatic. Cigarette smoking by asthmatics increases the severity of the asthma immediately, and further increases the likelihood of permanent lung damage.
How is Asthma Diagnosed?
Asthma is usually suspected when the characteristic symptoms occur, especially at nighttime, with exercise, with colds or with allergy flare-ups.
Definitive diagnosis and optimal treatment of each individual case requires not only periodic exams, but also measurements of lung function, starting by five or six years of age. This is done by measuring the amount and rate of air flow from your lungs. We often check to see how this changes after using an asthma inhaler. These results, along with your progress since your last visit, allow us to customize and update your treatment plan.
Since allergies are a common trigger in up to 85% of individuals with asthma, we will usually perform allergy testing as part of the initial evaluation in order to optimize your treatment. Chest x-rays, blood work, and other tests are rarely needed for the diagnosis and management of asthma, unless other medical problems are suspected.
How is Asthma Treated?
There are four general areas of asthma treatment. We will often recommend a combination of more than one, or even all, of these depending on your unique situation.
Avoidance of allergens and irritants: Depending on your history and the results of any allergy testing, we may recommend specific measures to reduce your exposure to the substances to which you are allergic. This will help reduce the amount of medication you need to control your asthma.
Treatment of underlying medical conditions: Chronic sinus problems, stomach acid reflux, obesity, and other conditions may cause or aggravate asthma. It is important that these problems be addressed in order to have ideal control of your asthma.
Medications: There are two basic categories of asthma medications- the first are bronchodilators, which temporarily relieve symptoms by relaxing constricted bronchial tubes. These are typically used only when needed. The second are anti-inflammatory medications, which prevent or heal the inflammation inside the bronchial tubes. These are generally used every day, even when you feel well.
Allergy immunotherapy: Allergy injections are the most effective long-term preventative strategy for allergy treatment. In the many cases of asthma where allergies are a significant trigger, injections help decrease asthma symptoms, reducing the amount of medications needed to control asthma.
Your Allergy Partners physician can help determine the cause of your asthma by combining a thorough medical history and physical examination with appropriate diagnostic testing. An allergist is an expert at managing asthma to ensure long-term health and well-being.
Allergy Partners is the nation’s largest single-specialty medical practice dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of allergy, asthma and immunology. All Allergy Partners physicians have specialized training and years of experience in the field. By working together, our physicians are able to provide state of the art care to all of our patients using the latest technology and applying best practices.
We recognize that allergies, asthma and allergic diseases present in myriad ways and that no two patients are the same. To that end, our goal is to apply our collective knowledge and resources to provide each and every patient comprehensive, personalized, and compassionate care. When visiting one of our physicians, you can expect a detailed medical history, a thorough physical exam, and appropriate diagnostic testing. Based on this information, you and your doctor will work together to devise a treatment plan that not only addresses your symptoms, but aims to improve your quality of life. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you and your family to improve your health and well being.