Allergic Diseases, S.C.
Steven H. Cohen, M.D.

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Current Topics in Allergy, Asthma and COPD Treatment

New Treatment Available:

Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) for Grass or Ragweed Allergy

Controlled, double-blind studies have been undertaken in Europe, the United States and Canada to evaluate materials to be used specifically for "under-the-tongue" treatment. We participated in some of these studies and, therefore, we are very familiar with this type of treatment.

The two forms of sublingual immunotherapy have been FDA-approved: one for grass allergy and the other for ragweed allergy. Patients who have these specific allergies would benefit most from this form of treatment.

The material is in the form of a tablet. The tablets are allowed to dissolve under the tongue without swallowing for the first minute. This treatment should be started three to four months before the specific allergy season. This means that those with grass allerfy should begin to take this therapy in January, and those with ragweed allergy should begin in April. Tablets must be taken daily. Treatment continues through the season and stops in mid-July for grass and mid-October for ragweed. The first doses need to be taken in the office with close monitoring for the possibility of a reaction. The FDA requires that patients on SLIT therapy have an adrenalin auto-injector pen (such as EpiPen) while they are undergoing this treatment.

We are more than happy to discuss this new form of treatment to see if a you might qualify for it.

Tips about common indoor and environmental allergens and how to minimize your exposure to them

Dust Mites
These thrive in house dust, which is composed of plant and animal material. Their droppings are the most common trigger of perennial allergy and asthma symptoms.

• Change and clean cooling and heating system filters once a month.

• Have your home, car and office vacuumed and dusted frequently.

• Get rid of extra clutter in your home that may be collecting dust, such as stacks of books, knick-knacks, stuffed animals or collectibles.

• Put mattresses, box springs and pillows in special plastic cases that are allergy-proof or “non-allergenic.”

• Wash blankets, sheets and pillowcases in 130-degree water and dry in a hot dryer every week.

• Try to regularly wash your curtains and throw rugs.

These are microscopic fungi. Their spores float in the air like pollen and are present throughout the year in many states. Molds can be found indoors in attics, basements, bathrooms, refrigerators and other food storage areas, garbage containers, carpets and upholstery.

• Keep bathroom and kitchen surfaces dry; fix leaks that leave surfaces wet and allow mold to grow.

• Clean moldy surfaces, such as the corners of showers or under the sink. Use a cleaning solution that is 10 parts water to one part bleach.

• Never put carpeting on concrete or damp floors, and avoid storing clothes, papers or other items in damp areas.

• Reduce humidity in damp areas by using a dehumidifier. Clean dehumidifiers once a week.

• All rooms, especially basements, bathrooms and kitchens, require ventilation and consistent cleaning to deter mold and mildew growth. Use a cleaning solution containing 5% bleach and a small amount of detergent.

People are not allergic to their pets' hair, but to a protein found in the saliva, dander (dead skin flakes) or urine of an animal with fur. These proteins are carried in the air on small, invisible particles and can trigger allergy sympyoms.

• Keep pets out of the bedroom by keeping your bedroom door closed.

• Keep pets out of other common rooms where people with allergies spend a great deal of time.

• Wash your hands after touching pets.

• If you have a cat or dog, it might help reduce household allergens by washing your pet once a week.

• Vacuum and mop your floors regularly to remove excess animal dander.

These live in warm, tropical climates, but various species dwell in the offices and homes of humans living a variety of climates. A protein found in their droppings can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.

• Vacuum or sweep the floor after meals and take the garbage out frequently.

• Keep food in containers with tight lids.

• Wash dishes immediately after using them with hot, soapy water, and wipe off counter tops and stoves.

• Clean under stoves, refrigerators or toasters where loose crumbs can accumulate.

• Thoroughly and frequently clean to remove dust and cockroach byproducts.

• Block areas where cockroaches could enter the home, like wall cracks, window or floor cracks, cellar doors and outside drains. Consider a professional exterminator to eliminate cockraoches.

Making changes to your indoor environment can take time and commitment, but it is necessary if you want to reduce your allergy symptoms.

Reprinted from The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

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