Ah, the coming of spring and its blooming flowers, outdoor activities…and sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes and sore throats due to environmental allergies. And for some, there’s little relief indoors, where dust, mold and pet dander seem to waft and lurk from floor to ceiling.
Symptom relief has long been limited to avoiding allergy triggers by hiding indoors and shying away from animals, or taking allergy medications, whose drawbacks include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, nausea and confusion, just to name a few.
Many people looking for long-term remission of allergies have sought out immunotherapy via prescription allergy shots, which require visiting an allergist one to two times a week for three to five years or more, but this treatment comes with pronounced risks, making it unsuitable for infants and young children, asthmatics and people with a history of anaphylaxis or taking certain medications.
Now there’s a safe, all-natural, painless alternative to suffering from environmental allergies: allergy drops. Taken daily under the tongue, allergy drops work by introducing tiny amounts of allergens into the system. Over time, the body learns to accept pollen, dust, dander and other allergens and stops creating defenses against them. For the majority of patients, four years of allergy drops are sufficient to send their treated allergies into remission. Side effects are rare and typically minor, making allergy drops safe even for young children and people on medications.
Locally, specialized allergy testing and drops are available from Dr. Mark Vocci at Lake Eye Associates, an ophthalmology practice with four offices including one at The Villages’ Sharon L. Morse Medical Center. Why does a Board-certified Ophthalmologist offer allergy drop treatment? “Many of my patients were complaining of sinus congestion and itchy, watery eyes due to environmental allergies,” says Dr. Vocci. “Rather than send them away to allergists, I researched how to do more than just treat a patient‘s symptoms, but to also provide safe, natural, long-term and possibly permanent allergy remission without painful and potentially risky allergy shots.”
In addition to providing customized drops, Dr. Vocci performs allergy skin testing. “Testing isn’t what it once was – it no longer involves protracted, uncomfortable skin scratching or multiple needle injections to identify allergens. The next-generation allergy testing I perform is painless and takes only 15 minutes, and it accurately isolates which environmental triggers a patient reacts to. Once we have the allergens identified, the drops are customized to contain a tiny dose of all of them, and a few drops taken under the tongue daily from the comfort of home supplies just enough exposure to cause the body to inure to them over time. Once that happens, no more immune system overreaction, and no more symptoms,” says Dr. Vocci. “Most patients notice a real improvement after three to four months.”
The methodology of teaching the body to adapt to allergens is the same idea that has been successful for decades via allergy shots, but shots come with considerable discomfort, inconvenience, cost and potential problems. “No one wants to take time out of their day to wait in an office for a painful shot in the arm once or twice a week for years on end,” says Dr. Vocci. “Not only is it time-consuming and miserable, but the co-pays can really add up quickly.”
While allergy testing is covered by most medical insurance providers, allergy drops typically are not. However, as Dr. Vocci points out, “I monitor progress only once every three months, so office visits are few and far between, which greatly reduces co-pay costs, travel expenses and lost hours compared to shots, saving most patients considerable expense.” “The cost is less than most people spend to receive allergy shots or get adequate medications. And the reported patient satisfaction level is much higher for allergy drops than either shots or medicine, which is the most important gauge of all.”
If you suffer from environmental allergies and would like to know more about the possibility of saying goodbye to them forever, help is here in the neighborhood at Lake Eye Associates.