The Allergy Services at Virginia ENT are under the direction of Dr. Thomas Robertson and Dr. Daniel Van Himbergen and augmented by Wendy Bond, FNP-C. We specialize in identifying and treating allergies which affect the ear, nose and throat causing sinusitis, hearing loss and dizziness.
By incorporating allergy testing and treatment into our ENT practice we are able to treat patients much more effectively. If patients are having trouble breathing through their nose, post nasal drainage, rhinitis or frequent sinus infection, Virginia ENT is the clear choice to explore whether allergies might be an underlying cause.
Allergy tests are designed to gather specific information on whether or not you have allergies and, if so, determine the type and severity. We test for environmental allergies, as these commonly affect the ear, nose and/or throat. This information allows the physicians to provide the best possible treatment options to you. Our Allergy Nurses safely and efficiently test your skin using tiny amounts of commonly troublesome allergens based on our geographic location. Skin testing is performed by the “prick” method, which is often more sensitive than blood testing in detecting the presence of seasonal and perennial allergies. This allows desensitization with immunotherapy to begin at the highest safe concentration for each individual patient, expediting time to the most therapeutic dose where a patient gets relief. If a patient’s skin is too sensitive or if a patient’s medications interfere with skin testing, a blood test can be done as an alternative.
After completion of the allergy test, patients who are found to have allergies which would benefit from treatment will be scheduled to meet with our Nurse Practitioner, Wendy Bond, to learn more about the various treatment options and formulate the best individualized treatment plan.
Allergy Shots (Subcutaneous Immunotherapy)
Subcutaneous allergy immunotherapy (SCIT) is treatment aimed at decreasing sensitivity to inhaled substances in the environment called (aero) allergens. Allergens are the substances that trigger allergy symptoms when you are exposed to them. These are typically identified by allergy testing. Allergen immunotherapy involves injecting increasing amounts of the allergen over time until reaching the maximal therapeutic dose, or maintenance dose, and continuing for a treatment duration of 3-5 years. Allergen immunotherapy can lead to the long lasting relief of allergy symptoms after treatment is stopped, and frequently yields significant reduction in upper respiratory infections including sinus and ear.
Sublingual (under the tongue) Immunotherapy
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a method of allergy treatment that uses a solution of allergens determined by skin or blood testing like in SCIT, but is self administered under the tongue by the patient in his/her own home. It interacts with the immune system to decrease allergic symptoms and reduce the need for medications, therefore improves the quality of life.
The use of SLIT has been more routinely available in Europe than in the United States and is still considered experimental here and therefore not covered by health insurance at this time. However, it is currently being studied by multiple Allergy Societies in the U.S. We feel SLIT is a safe alternative to allergy injections. There have been no life threatening reactions recorded with this type of immunotherapy making it safe for self-administration at home. Within six to eight months patients usually experience symptom relief. Many patients choose SLIT for its convenience factor and find it beneficial.
Treatment with SCIT and SLIT may extend from 3-5 years. Retesting at the end of this period is often done to determine if any sensitivities persist. Symptom resolution may last 3-5 years or longer after stopping immunotherapy.
Oral Tablet Immunotherapy
This type of treatment may be used in patients who have allergy only to or mainly to grass or ragweed. It is taken by mouth 3-4 months ahead of and during the patient’s problematic pollen season, and proves effective for many individuals.
Lung function testing may be done in our office for patients with asthma or suspicion of asthma to ensure adequate control before and during immunotherapy treatment.