Last month, I shared several videos with you that pertained to treatment of #asthma with biologicals. I hope you listened to the lives of patients just like you who can now “do life” with their family and friends not having to fear the next asthma attack. But it’s not so easy to change our habits on treating asthma. We’ve been trying for years to get patients to use preventative care (ie, inhaled steroids) and that method even in clinical studies is no more than ~50% effective. So what’s next?Continue reading
We’ve been so caught up with the #Coronavirus pandemic, that we’ve missed two important developments in the field of allergy:
- The FDA has now approved the use of Palforzia for taking care of peanut allergy. Guess when this was released? January 2020, about one month prior to the outbreak of COVID-19; the affect on our practice and most other medical clinics across the country was predictable. Nothing happened except to try and avoid COVID-19 as long as possible. Hopefully, our efforts will pay off, but the viral pandemic isn’t over yet, even though the panic has appeared to lessen.
- I won’t talk more about COVID-19 because many of us (including myself) are suffering from Corona fatigue and plenty of good information about COVID exists on YouTube channels such as MedCram and ZDogg. Be prepared to devote some time to listen to these experts, because they won’t give you just a brief summary. They drill down to the ever evolving truth about COVID-19. (definitely worth your time)
- Back to the peanut story. #Palforzia is designed to give minute (very small) powder of peanut protein a little bit at a time so you don’t develop anaphylaxis with every ingestion. The company making this product spent large amounts of money to train professionals such as allergists with Zoom! conferences and field representatives to make sure we launched the program of desensitization without a hitch. Then came Coronavirus and knocked that one out of the park. So where does that leave us:
- Palforzia or peanut desensitization still works and is available to those patients who make good candidates. And who wouldn’t be a good candidate?
- Palforzia is associated with some risk and a consultation just to focus on this new treatment is required before starting the process. Can you believe, patients have to pass a certification as well?
- For more information, call our office at 918-495-2636 to schedule a consultation for peanut desensitization.
What else did we miss because of COVID-19?
IT’S THE SPRING POLLEN SEASON!
In years past, everyone lived their life (or especially free time) outdoors because we live in Tulsa for the Spring & Fall, right? Well, this year, it was hard to live outside when you’re quarantined. Hopefully, you avoided exposure to the Coronavirus, but you also avoided exposure to the outdoor Spring allergens (good for you). What you’ll find when we relax the “stay-at-home” rules is more sneezing, runny nose, and typical allergy symptoms. Just a great case in point at how exposure really plays a significant role in your allergy symptoms. So don’t make fun of me when I tell you to cover your mattress and pillows with a substance that isolates the dust mites! Let’s review how allergies work, because a “pollen grain” and IgE look a lot like COVID-19. the video below is a pollen grain that attaches to IgE and the process of “allergy” begins. Notice that whatever process happens in the body occurs because a receptor (suction cup on the cell) binds to a virus or IgE. Every reaction (both good and bad) happens because of this union between body cells and external molecules. Listen to the video below to see how this actually works–and BTW, infection with COVID-19 works the same way.
So how do I tell if I’m having allergy or a nasty virus?
- As is usual for me, I like to give you academic information on topics that I really want you to understand–don’t just take my word for it. Too many hits come up searching for “corona virus or allergy,” so I will make it simple and give you the best video to watch.
- Patients with allergy are always sneezing and coughing, and many stories this year involve allergy patients who were suspected of having “the virus”. One patient said, “the isle cleared at Wal-Mart when I sneezed”. Another patient found she was ostracized at a friendly get together because of her runny nose and cough–it wasn’t Corona, only spring allergies. She told me later, that she felt embarrassed and wanted to leave the party immediately. You shouldn’t have to experience this rejection and embarrassment if you know what separates virus (any type) from allergy.
- Viral infections will often have fever, sore muscles/joints, and in the case of COVID-19, significant shortness of breath. Most likely, this is your first experience with rhinitis, whereas allergy patients have sneezing, coughing, and runny nose year after year.
- If you have any questions, please ask your doctor if you need further testing. Testing for both allergies and viral infections (not just Corona) are readily available and you should take advantage of knowing how best to treat your symptoms by correctly diagnosing your problem. Now, don’t show up at your allergists’ office if you think you have COVID-19 before calling first! Don’t take my word alone, watch the video from Dr. Skoner at West Virginia — 3 minutes long and will give you the peace of mind to know “is this allergy or virus.” Your health depends on it!
Jane (fictitious name, of course because of HIPPA regulations) is now 56 years old and just last year was diagnosed with #asthma. She thought, “no big deal, there are plenty of inhalers for me to use so I don’t wheeze”. Little did she know that 2019 would put her in the hospital 3 times and multiple visits to the emergency room because of asthma. In fact, she even missed her grandson’s graduation from kindergarten because of her asthma. Now if that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will! Continue reading
As an allergist in Tulsa, the myths that surround asthma, food allergy, hives, hay fever abound and patients often come in to the office telling ME what they are allergic to or how to fix the problem. Let me give you some examples:
When it comes to asthma, it’s not easy fighting the myths of Facebook, Google, or e-mail campaigns. And why are we so resistant to the diagnosis of asthma for our kids and ourselves? For asthma, if you don’t make the correct diagnosis, you’ll never implement the proper treatment. By that I mean, you’re not likely to use prevention, but instead will wait for an asthma attack and then rush in to treat the symptoms. Health care providers are responsible for this phenomenon just as much as patients. Go to any emergency room or urgent care with an asthma attack and you’re likely to receive steroids, antibiotics and the admonition to “see your primary care doctor”. The problem is that patients feel better after steroids and guess what? they never seek medical attention for the prevention of #asthma. After practicing asthma medicine for over 25 years, consider the following reasons for why our asthma treatment often fails to meet the “standard of care” according to published #asthma research:
- Asthma attacks don’t happen all at once. If I can get through an asthma attack in September, what’s the big deal of one course of steroids per year? This paroxysmal nature of asthma makes proper treatment very difficult because we tend to have a very short memory about our last asthma attack.
- As a general rule, we all resist preventive care. Do you miss a regular dental floss or exercise session? As difficult as it seems to continue with good preventive care, think how much more difficult it is to take an inhaler everyday to prevent asthma! Antibiotics are so successful after 10-14 days that we can stop therapy and recover back to our original health. Asthma isn’t the same disease process and many times one attack leads to never ending asthma.
Can I get over asthma? The short answer is usually not. Asthma is a disease of inflammation which means the airways over react to allergy, infections, or irritation. In short, this means lungs with asthma are forever inundated with “triggers” that cause wheezing, coughing, and typical asthma symptoms. If you don’t use preventive inhalers for the next attack, you can be assured it will come.
I for one am tired how my health score is tied to my existence as a person rather than who I really am. “How to keep up your credit score, what income bracket I’m in, what’s my IQ” are nagging reminders that I may not be anything more than just a number and not a unique person on this planet. Health care is fast approaching this same pigeonhole similar to banks and retailers, but it’s not all bad. Ever heard of personalized medicine?
#Personalized medicine has some pretty awesome benefits on the horizon, but “what’s the catch?” My cholesterol has to be below 120, cigarettes at zero, and my daily cups of coffee can’t be over 5 if I have any hope of living past 80;you just can’t get away from numbers.
According to Wikipedia, Personalized medicine, also termed precision medicine, is a medical procedure that separates patients into different groups—with medical decisions, practices, interventions and/or products being tailored to the individual patient based on their predicted response or risk of disease. So if numbers and health are an integral part of the future of health care, is there such a thing as an allergy or asthma number? Wouldn’t it be nice to find out which asthma inhaler is best for you based on “personalized medicine?” Or what if you suffer from chronic hives and can’t find the cause? Personalized medicine involves many more diseases that just asthma and allergy–just look at the link below, but I have a list as well. Continue reading
Ever notice how everyone has #allergies these days? I kid you not, almost everyday, a patient will tell me that #Tulsa (where I practice) has more allergies than any other place in the country. The irony of it all, is so did patients in Kansas, and patients say the same thing in Virginia and Texas. You get my point–we all love to be known as the Allergy Capital of the World! Maybe it’s because allergies make us feel so miserable, and we love to hear stories about how to deal with the nemesis. Or maybe we want some “inside information” to share with our friends & family who also suffer from allergy. Whatever the reason for our obsession with allergy, you can’t argue with the fact that good allergy advise is not only helpful for better quality of life, but it’s crucial in making sure that allergy sufferers avoid heeding the WRONG advice for treating #hay fever. This is the passion I experienced in order to complete a fellowship training in allergy– I wanted to be able to interact with patients about their #allergic symptoms on their journey to good health. But wait, why practice a specialty that has so much incorrect information on-line and no doubt, “everyone’s an expert in allergy” when you could be doing real medicine to treat someone’s heart attack? Here are four reasons I still practice allergy for your consideration: Continue reading
I was in my doctor’s office today (yes, I go to the doctor as well) and she asked me if I was taking my #medications. Of course, I said “yes, the ones that are in my chart”, not really having that photogenic list in my head. As we talked, I realized my confession of what my doctor wanted to hear got the priority over what I was really doing. Busted for lying, but not intentional.
I wish it wasn’t so difficult to take care of our bodies. I always overestimate how much I #exercise and how little I eat. Scales don’t lie, so I just don’t weigh myself. Isn’t it a good thing I only see my dentist every 6 months? I only have to lie about flossing twice a year!
#Asthma, however, is no laughing matter. Your asthma control and cost of keeping you out of the hospital depends on how often you take the medications prescribed to CONTROL your asthma not just treat it. The solution is simple, yet very difficult to actually perform correctly. Here’s the issue with asthma–which inhaler do I use when it’s prescribed by my asthma doctor? I’ll bet you confuse the use of controller medications with reliever medications and now that more new inhalers are on the market it’s even more difficult to do the right thing.
I know you’ve been there before….waiting in the doctor’s office for your appointment and some smartly dressed man or woman barely has to say hello to the receptionist and walks right by your seat, straight to the doctor’s office. “Hey, that’s not fair,” you say to yourself as you dig your nose into that outdated magazine trying to mask the irritation. “My time is just as valuable as theirs is, put me to the front of the line!” As a patient, my frustration with the #health care system only percolates at the injustice. Isn’t the cost of #medication so high in America because of all the drug companies? If there were no drug reps, wouldn’t my doctor have a better and certainly more unbiased selection of medications? Granted, the goal of any #pharmaceutical company (employer of drug reps) is to make profit, but they can’t do that unless a product (medication) works well and is taken as directed. In the end, drug companies want you to be adherent to medications prescribed so they’ll work, you get better, all of which is good for the bottom line. Almost sounds too good to be true when everybody wins, but hang on and I’ll show you how this is possible. Continue reading