Friday, August 25, 2006

TOPIC: No More Allergies?!?
My life has never been without the effects of allergies. I am literally allergic to grass, animal dander, mold, mildew, dust and a large variety of other things. As a child, allergies kept me from playing some sports as I also suffered from allergy-induced asthma. This morning, I ran across an article that may help me, and thousands of others like me, as we approach the Fall allergy season. Here is the text of the article, culled from Ivanhoe Broadcast News:

No More Allergies!

Fall is coming, and so is ragweed season. It runs from mid-August through November, and this fall millions of people will be feeling its effects -- from red, watery eyes to excessive sneezing. Ragweed produces 100 million tons of pollen every year in the United States, but don't worry -- help is on the way. A new treatment could soon leave you allergy-free.

Oncology nurse Kim Brandt, RN, is one of 36-million Americans allergic to the wild plant. "I would be sneezing, running, watery eyes, itchy nose and nasal congestion," she says. Sick of the symptoms, Brandt joined a study on a new way to give "rush immunotherapy."

"Rush immunotherapy is a way of administering immunotherapy that condenses a large series of shots in a short period of time," Mark Moss, M.D., an allergist at University of Wisconsin-Madison, tells Ivanhoe. Immunotherapy builds resistance to allergens. With standard therapy, patients need weekly shots for up to six months. With rush immunotherapy, it's done much faster. Dr. Moss says, "Theoretically, [this] could be done in about two to three weeks."

But it's risky. Patients have severe allergic reactions one-third of the time. In this new study, patients were pre-medicated with the anti-allergy drug omalizumab before starting the immunotherapy. "They had a five-times lower chance of having a reaction compared to the group that received the rush immunotherapy alone," Dr. Moss says. That pre-treatment also led to better symptom relief.

Rush immunotherapy is already an available treatment, but the pre-treatment with omalizumab has not yet been FDA-approved, so the risk of reactions is still high. Ongoing studies are also looking at the effect of omalizumab on other allergies as it could be effective in treating dust mite, pet, tree and grass allergies as well. Brandt got the treatment three years ago. "I have had three consecutive years of no symptoms," she says. "So if you ask me what it has done for me, it has improved my quality of life 100 percent."

Call your doctor and ask for a referral to an allergist. That's what I plan to do. Maybe we can receive rush immunotherapy -- and be relieved of the horrible allergy season this coming Fall.

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