What does an allergy nurse do?
An allergy nurse focuses on the care of the patient with chronic allergy conditions. They will be collaborating with the ENT provider to focus on the symptoms they are having and any potential triggers. They will be responsible for education which will aid in finding solutions that could help cease triggers that may be causing symptoms. The allergy nurse will be responsible for the testing, mixing, and administering of immunotherapy injections.
When a patient comes to see you, what information should they bring?
A medication list. There are a few medications that you should not take prior to testing and immunotherapy injections. Certain medications can inhibit the reaction that could skew testing results, and others can alter the response to medications in the event of a severe reaction.
A list of symptoms/triggers. The allergy nurse and doctor will be discussing symptoms and times that these may be occurring more frequently. There may be certain “triggers” to symptoms that could be avoidable and easy things to do around the home that may help to lessen symptoms.
What are three questions patients should consider asking during their visit?
What can I do at home or in my life to avoid allergy symptoms?
What triggers my allergies?
How will having allergies affect my overall health?
There are usually small things to do that can help alleviate some allergy triggers, learning these for your specific allergens may help to lessen symptoms. Allergies can aggravate asthma symptoms so knowing how allergies can affect you is an important part of your care.
What is the largest misconception you think patients have about allergy testing and treatment?
It will hurt. We currently perform what is called MQT testing, which is a combination of prick and intradermal is testing. The prick testing is minimally invasive and more tolerated by individuals. We have also used some topical anesthetics for children or individuals that are very nervous.
It will work immediately. Immunotherapy is a process of “retraining” the way your immune system reacts to certain allergens. Each allergy shot contains a tiny amount of the specific substance(s) that trigger your allergy symptoms. Allergy shots contain just enough allergens to stimulate your immune system — but not enough to cause a full-blown allergic reaction. Over time, the dose of allergens in each of your allergy shots will be increased; this helps get your body used to the allergens. Your immune system builds up a tolerance to the allergens, causing your allergy symptoms to diminish over time.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give patients to improve their overall health?
Stop smoking. Experts believe that smoking is probably the single largest cause of preventable deaths in the United States; and it can be bad for your health even if you are not the one smoking. Smoking causes lung disease and because of the numerous cancer-causing compounds and toxic irritants in them, cigarettes can cause or aggravate allergic reactions. Tobacco smoke can also irritate and inflame the nasal passages, causing histamine to be released that can also aggravate allergy symptoms. This results in sneezing, itchy eyes, post-nasal drip, and a stuffy nose. These are common immunologic responses to the chemicals found in cigarettes. These have no cure, and the only remedy is to avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
If folks wanted additional health information about allergies, what are some available resources?
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology has some great information.
ALK-Abello is a lead distributor of allergy extracts and compounding, they also have some great resources and information on immunotherapy.
Our offices have some great handouts and information obtained from various sources and would be more than willing to sit down with you and talk about any questions that you had!