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“He is very well educated on the topic and it's obvious that he cares deeply about his patients.
Whether adult or child, Tom is most definitely the man you or your family member needs to see if you have allergies or asthma.”
…Ashley C.

What are Allergies and How are They Treated?

Allergies are an acute allergic reaction to pollen with symptoms similar to the common cold.
What are the Symptoms of Allergies?
Woman in flowering tree grove wiping runny nose.
  • Runny nose and nasal stuffiness
  • Watery, itchy, red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Mucous runs down the back of your throat (postnasal drip)
  • Puffy, dark circles under the eyes (allergy shiners)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Poor sleep
  • Loss of senses of taste and smell
  • Snoring
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies are most commonly genetic, being born into a family that is very allergic. Symptoms occur after the person comes in contact with a substance that triggers an allergic reaction. It starts at the level of the immune system whose purpose is to help the body ward off what it perceives as harmful invaders by reacting to these foreign substances, referred to as allergens.

The immune system creates antibodies, proteins in the bodies that target specific allergens and other cells, such as viruses, bacteria, or cancer cells in order to help protect the person from disease.

In allergic persons, however, their immune systems overact to otherwise harmless substances such as pollen, animal dander, as well as other things it should ignore. This ultimately results in the aggravating and sometimes debilitating symptoms commonly seen with allergies.
Who is at Risk for Allergies?
Individuals with strong family histories of allergies are particularly prone towards becoming allergic themselves. Living in certain parts of the country where pollen counts are prevalent makes a person much more likely to suffer from allergies. Arizona, up until the past 50 or 60 years was felt to be a safe haven from allergies and a desirable place to live for patients who suffered from allergies and asthma.

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case due to the introduction of non-indigenous plants, irrigation, and golf courses.
Family discussing with Thomas Willim.
The upward trend of temperatures the past few decades has resulted in more vegetation and higher pollen counts, with the pollen itself becoming much more powerful and aggravating than in prior times.

Estimates suggest that anywhere from 25-33% of the US population suffers from allergies and the number is rising.
How are Allergies Diagnosed?
Many people can accurately tell when they have allergies. When there is doubt, a visit to their family practitioner may be necessary to establish the diagnosis. They can confirm the diagnosis in many cases by obtaining a thorough history and performing a physical exam.

In some cases the provider may elect to perform either allergy skin or blood testing. One must understand, however, that both of these allergy tests can provide misleading false positive or false negative results.

How are Allergies Treated?

While simply avoiding the allergens would seem easy enough, it is far from practical as in many instances that may not be possible. Allergens surround us wherever we go whether we are in our homes or out and about in the world. In some cases, a move to a less allergic part of the country may become necessary when all other options have failed.

There are dozens of medications, both prescription and over the counter which can help reduce your immune system’s reactions with the hope that they will reduce your symptoms. Antihistamines, including Claritin, Allegra,or Zyrtec or another pill, Singulair, which is in a class of drugs called leukotriene inhibitors may offer some relief. Cortisone nasal sprays such as Flonase can help as well, but can cause nosebleeds. Eye drops can decrease redness and itching in some cases. Unfortunately, the benefits of these medications’s tend to be rather limited in patients with moderate or severe allergies. 

Home Remedies
Filtering the air with a HEPA filter and keeping windows and doors closed during allergy season can be beneficial.

Removing fabric curtains and carpeting and opting for tile or wood flooring will reduce in-home allergens.

Nasal rinses using a Neti pot immediately after being outdoors or when exposed to a known allergen is advisable as is showering to remove the pollens that attach to our hair and bodies throughout the day.

Washing all bedding in hot water once weekly helps to keep allergens such as dust mites from accumulating. Changing out of work clothes is advisable as pollens attach to them throughout the day.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (Under the Tongue Allergy Drops)
Allergy Drop Vials close up
Immunotherapy is the process of treating and eliminating allergies with substances that stimulate the immune response. Sublingual immunotherapy is the most effective means available for ridding an individual of their allergies both short and long term. It works by having the patient place small doses of allergens under their tongue from a dropper bottle each day. They do this in the convenience of their own home, gradually increasing the dose for the first 3 months.

Then a single daily drop of maintenance serum is all that is necessary to completely eliminate the symptoms, with a longstanding remission or cure commonly seen after three years of treatment. With an amazing 90% success rate it works when all else has failed.

The drops work very quickly relative to other methods of immunotherapy such as allergy shots. Our patients must respond within six months or they are deemed one of the “10%ers” who, specific to their immune system did not respond to the treatment and are removed from our program.

Allergy shots, on the other hand, take a minimum of six months to provide benefit, and may take years to provide any benefit.