Seeking Allergy Relief

A new service in Ashland and Hayward is helping allergy patients find relief this spring.

jenniferThis spring, Jennifer Bednarik went outside to play football with her son. This in itself wouldn’t seem like a big deal, unless you’ve fought allergies for your entire life.

“I’ve been dealing with a lifetime of allergies. Initially, I thought it was just hay fever but it turns out I’m allergic to pretty much everything outside except for a pine tree,” Bednarik explains.

The allergies were brutal—often times getting sick throughout the year with various colds, sinus infections, bronchitis and even pneumonia.

This started to change about 1-year ago when her primary care doctor referred her to Dr. Tuominen at Ear Nose Throat (ENT) Services of Memorial Medical Center. It was here that in addition to learning about her allergies, she began the process of addressing them.

“I take weekly injections that actually have a tiny component of everything I’m allergic to in it. These little bits of each thing are helping me build immunity to my allergies,” she says.

These allergy shots, also referred to as immunotherapy, retrain the way your immune system reacts to certain allergens. ENT Registered Nurse Laura Kriskovich says that the shots contain a tiny amount of the allergen, which triggers the allergy symptoms.

Laura Kriskovich, RN draws up an allergy shot at ENT Services of Memorial Medical Center.

Laura Kriskovich, RN draws up an allergy shot at ENT Services of Memorial Medical Center.

“We put just enough to stimulate the immune system but not cause a full-blown reaction. Over time, we increase the dosage that helps your body get used to the allergens and even tolerate it. In many cases, the symptoms or reactions to the allergen will diminish,” says Kriskovich.

One year in, Bednarik couldn’t be happier. “These shots have helped tremendously. I am no longer struggling or miserable with allergies wanting to tear my eyeballs out. In the past year, I haven’t had a single sinus or other infection.”

Bednarik is unsure how long she’ll have to visit the ENT Clinic of Memorial Medical Center for weekly injections, which makes her grateful to have this service so close to her job at WITC in Ashland.

“They are so flexible to work with. They find time to fit me in anytime Dr. Tuominen is on-campus and they are open. I don’t know what I’d do without this service here in Ashland,” she says.

The service, which started about 2-years ago, also sees patients regularly down at Hayward Area Memorial Hospital. Right now, Dr. Tuominen splits his time between the two communities, helping patients in the region receive the treatments they need closer to home. Often times, patients may need to receive shots for several years before their immune system is fully resistant to the allergen.

For Bednarik, the convenience, factored in with not being miserable is a win-win. But, equally as exciting is the increased quality time she can spend with her family.

“I get to be outside all year playing ball with my son or volleyball with my daughter without having to worry about getting sick,” Bednarik says. “It is amazing to think what a difference one year has made.”

To learn more about ENT Services of MMC, click here.