Archive for Allergy to cats

Sublingual Immunotherapy


What is Sublingual Immunotherapy?

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an alternative way to treat allergies without injections. SLIT treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to, which increases “immunity” to the allergen and reduces the allergic symptoms. Unlike injection immunotherapy, which is given as shots, sublingual immunotherapy is given as drops under the tongue. The safety and efficacy of allergy drops is still being established by the FDA, and they are only used off-label in the United States.

When symptoms present, an allergist must first use standard allergy testing to confirm the patient’s sensitivities. Once the allergen is determined, an extract in drop or tablet is prescribed.  In office, the patient is directed to keep the extract under the tongue for one to two minutes and then swallow it. The process is repeated at home anywhere from three days a week to daily. During the first four months, called the escalation phase, the dosage of the extract is gradually increased. After the initial appointment, patients should see their allergists once or twice each year for a check-up.  It is recommended that sublingual immunotherapy is continued for three to five years to ensure developing a lasting immunity.

Allergy Causes

Suitable for both children and adults, sublingual immunotherapy is relatively safe and effective form of treatment for rhinitis and asthma caused by allergies to dust mites, grass, ragweed, cat dander, and tree pollens. Evidence suggests that sublingual immunotherapy may be effective for treating bothersome eyes caused by pollen during hay fever season. Additionally, it might prove an effective therapy for children with mild eczema and is currently being studied for its potential in treating food allergies.

Treatment Details

Generally, sublingual immunotherapy risks relate to the nature of the treatment: it is administered at home and without direct medical supervision. Patients should heed the treatment plan provided to them. This will help with identifying and managing adverse reactions and side effects. Side effects among both children and adults are usually local and mild and include itching in the mouth or stomach problems. These can usually be managed by dose adjustments. Adhering to the prescription set by the medical care provider is best.
Request an appointment with an allergist to see if sublingual immunotherapy is right for you. Vials will take one to two weeks to mix before treatment can start. Patients take the drops in the convenience of their own homes and visit their doctor only once or twice per year. It is recommended that patients keep using the drops for three to five years in order for the body to build up a lasting immunity.
Give us  a call to arrange a consultation. Together, we can determine if allergy drops are a good fit for you.

Allergy drops

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The Dangers Of Raw Milk

As a doctor, I am interesting in preventing disease as well as treating it. So I try to encourage my patients that having a healthy lifestyle is key is lessening their frequency of having allergies and asthma.

What concerns me is that in the public’s quest to eat healthy, some may have gone overboard. Many people who promote organic food–because it has less additives and pesticides, which is a good thing– are now promoting a food that has potential dangers in its so-call pure state: that is raw milk.

Under the mistaken belief that raw milk is better for your health, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement that “substantial data suggest that pasteurized milk confers equivalent health benefits compared with raw milk, without the additional risk of bacterial infections.”

Pasteurization is the term in which heating milk to a high enough temperature for a long time period to kill disease-causing bacteria has been used safely for over 100 years. And states the New York State Department of health that “pasteurization is the only way to ensure that milk products do not contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia, Brucella, Coxiella and Listeria.”

In an interesting article by the FDA, it stated that CDC reported between 1993 and 2006 more than 1500 people in the US became ill due to drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk. Also the CDC stated that “unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause food borne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations. It is especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, children, older adults and pregnant women.”

Symptoms of people becoming ill from raw milk include: vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal pain, fever headaches and body aches. More serious reactions such as blood-stream inflections, kidney failure and inflammation of the nervous system can occur. Consult a physician in you or your children exhibit these systems.

When shopping for milk or milk products, make sure to check the package to see it its states pasteurized.

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My Cat And My Allergies And Asthma

A number of my patients own pets, specifically cats. And they, or their children may be allergic to Mr. Whiskers but are loathe to give them away. So there are a few things to consider with living with a pet.

According to study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “more than half of asthma cases in the US are linked to allergies, with sensitivity to cats responsible for 29% of allergy-related asthmas.”

“The findings would seem to indicate that exposure to cats increases asthma risk, but other studies have suggested exposure early in life may actually protect children from developing cat allergies in the first place,” says WebMD.

In a related article, Darryl C. Zeldin, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) says “we are not telling people to get rid of their cats. What we can say from this study is that people with documented cat allergies have an increased risk for developing asthma.”

When families want to have both children and pets, Todd Green, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh points out in NBC, that “it might make sense to get the cat or dog first when planning a family because a recent study found that kids who grew up in a home with both a cat and a dog were less likely to develop an allergy.”

And in another interesting article I read, by Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, even if you get rid of your cat, don’t think the allergy will suddenly disappear. “The allergen load typically takes as long as four to six months to reach that of non-cat homes. It has been shown that cat allergen may persist in mattresses for years after a cat has been removed from the home, so new bedding is recommended.”

So if you decide to keep Mr. Whiskers, I suggest you do the following. Get rid of wall-to-wall carpeting. Hardwood floors are easier to clean. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, because normal vacuums spread more cat dander in the air than they pick up. Keep the animal outside for as much time as possible or keep it out of sleeping areas of your house.

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