Intermountain Allergy & Asthma
Intermountain Allergy & Asthma has a long standing reputation of excellence in serving our Wasatch Front communities for well over 30 years. Our conveniently located offices in Draper and Ogden provide a wide range of Allergy and Immunology services provided by American Board of Allergy and Immunology certified physicians specializing in allergy and asthma care.
Why It Is Important To Choose A Board-Certified Physician?
Extensive training is required to become a board-certified physician. To obtain board certification in Allergy and Immunology, a physician must graduate from an accredited medical school, complete a year-long internship, and then a three year residency in internal medicine or pediatrics. Upon completing a residency program, the physician must complete a two or three year fellowship in Allergy and Immunology training.
Our board certified physicians specialize in relief from the following:
- Seasonal Allergies
- Food Allergies
- Pet Allergies
- Medication Allergies
- Chronic & Episodic Asthma
- Exercise-Induced Asthma
- Eczema (Dermatitis)
- Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE)
- Insect Bites & Stings
What We Do
Approximately 20% of Americans suffer from allergies, making it the sixth most prevalent condition in the country. Allergy is one of the most pervasive and debilitating diseases affecting the workplace today. Allergies account for approximately 10% of all lost workdays in this country. The cost of lost workdays and impaired productivity is over $11 billion per year.
Allergies frequently trigger asthma. Asthma is a frequent cause for hospital admission for children and it is one of the leading childhood diseases causing significant lost time from school. On average, asthmatic children miss twice as many school days as other children. Asthma and allergies lead the list of causes for absence from work and the resulting loss of production.
Despite good medications available for asthma, and improved understanding of the disease, asthma-related symptoms and death are still a significant problem. Asthma-related healthcare costs remain high.
Past studies have shown that referral to a Board Certified Allergist for aggressive management of the disease results in:
- Fewer hospitalizations
- Shorter hospital stays
- Fewer return visits to the hospital
- Fewer emergency room visits
- Reduction in hospitalization cost
- Fewer sick care office visits
- Less time lost from work and school
What Is Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy, sometimes referred to as desensitization, is a series of injections to lessen your sensitivity to those things to which you are allergic. These injections are gradually increased in amount as well as strength until you become more tolerant of those inhaled substances which are causing the problems. Medications may still be needed to relieve symptoms during the desensitization process.
How Long Must I Be On Injections?
The treatment period varies from patient to patient and is normally 3-1/2 to 5 years and continues year-round. During most of this time the shots are given once a month.
Are Allergy Injections Safe?
Because you are receiving injections of substances to which you are allergic, it is possible for a systemic reaction to occur. Systemic reactions are uncommon, but serious and require immediate attention. These reactions most frequently occur within a few minutes after your injection. Therefore, you must wait in the clinic 30 minutes (or longer if you wish) following an allergy injection to allow for prompt and appropriate treatment of any reaction that might occur.
Are Reactions Common?
No. Most allergy injections are safe and free from reactions.
What Can I Do To Minimize Reactions?
- Take an antihistamine before getting your injection(s).
- Wait in the clinic 30 minutes following each allergy injection.
- Let the medical assistant know:
- how well you tolerated your last shot
- about any new drugs you are taking
- if you are having asthma symptoms
- if you are ill or have a fever
- if you are pregnant
- Avoid strenuous exercise for one hour before or two hours following your injection.
How Often Must I Get My Injections?
For the first few months injections are given once or twice a week and then less frequently as the immunotherapy progresses. Eventually injections are given monthly.
Should I Get An Injection If I’m Sick?
No. Injections will not be given if you are significantly ill, especially if you have a fever or have asthma symptoms. If the illness is related to your allergies, please call the doctor for advice. Be sure the allergist and medical assistant are told about any changes in your medical condition and any new medications you are taking.
Where Do I Get My Injections?
We have offices in Draper and Ogden. You can get your injections at the location most convenient for you. You do not need an appointment. If neither the Draper nor Ogden offices are convenient, you may be able to receive the injections in your primary care doctors’ office (this is done quite frequently).
What is food allergy?
A food allergy is any adverse reaction to an otherwise harmless food or food component that involves a portion of the body’s immune system. Although allergic reactions can occur virtually to any food, most reactions are caused by a limited number of foods: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms involve the skin or gastrointestinal tract, beginning with swelling or itching of the lips, mouth and/or throat. When an offending food enters the stomach, nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea may occur. Itching, eczema, hives, and redness of the skin may also occur. Some people may experience sneezing, a runny nose, shortness of breath, or asthma. Anaphylaxis is a rare but life-threatening condition. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include severe itching, hives, swelling of the throat, breathing problems, unconsciousness, and even death.
What is food intolerance?
Adverse reactions to foods that do not involve the immune system are known as “food intolerances.” One of the most common may be the result of the body’s inability to digest sugars in food such as milk sugar (lactose) intolerance. Other examples are food poisoning, metabolic reactions to food, reactions to drug-like chemicals in foods (e.g. caffeine) and adverse reactions due to chemicals added to food.
How can a food allergy be diagnosed?
If a food allergy is suspected, a board certified allergist should be able to help. Diagnosing a food allergy begins with a detailed medical history to identify the suspected food. The physician may suggest keeping a diary of foods eaten and symptoms that occur. Elimination diets are sometimes used to help diagnose and treat food allergies. Skin testing may also be useful. The physician might conduct a food challenge where the person eats portions of the suspected food under medical supervision.
Treatment of food allergy
Once the diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed, the allergist can discuss treatment options with you. For many people, the best option is still to simply avoid the offending food.
Here is a popular allergy myth: Eating unfiltered local honey will help control allergies.
I want to start this by saying that I love unfiltered “raw” honey. I personally eat a lot of honey (sometimes by the spoonful), but I don’t recommend it for allergies.
There are two reasons that local honey is unlikely to be helpful with seasonal allergies:
Local Honey Allergy Myth Reason 1: The pollen that is found in honey is generally not the pollen that is causing your allergies. Bees are attracted to bright, colorful, and fragrant plants (such as roses or lilacs), but pollen from those plants usually doesn’t cause nose and eye symptoms. Most of the time, the pollen types that make us miserable in the spring and fall comes from drab, un-colored plants, with no noticeable fragrance (such as the grass in your front lawn, or ragweed). These are the plants that bees usually ignore. Ingesting the wrong pollen simply isn’t going to make a difference.
Local Honey Allergy Myth Reason 2: When we eat pollen-containing honey, the pollen proteins are very likely destroyed, or at least significantly altered by stomach acid and other digestive enzymes so that any allergy potential they may have had is eliminated.
If you could somehow put honey with the ‘correct’ pollen in it under the tongue (where a portion is absorbed directly into the blood stream) it might be effective. Believe me though, it would take a lot of honey to do any good.
So – by all means enjoy the flavor of raw, local honey, but use tested and proven medicines and treatments to take care of allergies.
Duane J. Harris M.D.
Intermountain Allergy and Asthma
A Local Raw Honey Tip from Dr. Harris
An interesting taste test is to compare ‘raw’, unfiltered honey and commercial honey from your local store (it’s important that the raw honey hasn’t been heated at all or this may not work). A friend who produces honey told me about this and I could definitely taste a difference (I loved the ‘raw’ honey). Apparently, any significant heating can change the flavor – so you get the best, most ‘natural’ flavor by consuming the honey before it crystallizes and needs to be heated or ‘melted’.
What are symptoms of Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAR)?
Symptoms of SAR include redness, tearing, and itching in both eyes, and coincide with nasal symptoms in most patients. A number of allergy medications can (and do) help with the eyes: antihistamines can help to some degree, as do the daily nasal sprays. For those really bad eye days though, you’ll need eye drops in addition. It’s OK to use antihistamines, nasal sprays, and eye drops at the same time – they won’t interfere with each other or cause unexpected side effects when used together.
If your eyes are itching somewhat, but burning, ‘grittiness’, pain, or redness are the main problems, you may have something else going on in addition to simple eye allergies. Itching is generally the thing that patients with eye allergies complain about the most---and of course it’s often the hardest thing to control. Rubbing an allergic eye will almost always make the itching worse – (but OH it’s tough not to rub and scratch!) For children especially, it is just not realistic to think that they can resist the urge to rub their eyes.
How can I treat symptoms of Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis (SAR)?
There are a number of good over the counter (OTC) eye drops available, that will work for mild or moderate allergy symptoms. However, be aware that some of the OTC drops are meant to be used sparingly, and can actually cause more problems in the eyes if used daily for extended periods of time. Also, most OTC drops burn or sting for a few minutes after being used, and are not very kid friendly. If you think that you or family members may need eye drops for much of this pollen allergy season, get in to see an Intermountain Allergy and Asthma allergist now and ask for prescription drops that can be used long term, and will be easier to use in children.
There are some types of allergic eye disease that can be quite severe, and if not treated appropriately can even affect vision long term. If your eye symptoms are not adequately controlled with OTC meds, or if your prescription meds are not enough, make sure you let your doctor know!
Finally for those patients with significant nasal and eye allergies, and for whom medications are not enough: allergy ‘desensitization’ shots can be very helpful with eye allergies, regardless of the type of pollen causing the problem. Talk with an Intermountain Allergy and Asthma allergist and see if this may be a good form of treatment for you.
New to Intermountain Allergy and Asthma?
If you suffer from allergies and have never seen an allergist, now is a great time to consider starting professional allergy treatment. Dr. Harris and Dr. Anderson accept new allergy patients of all ages and most insurance plans. If you have questions about insurance coverage, please contact Intermountain Allergy and Asthma at (801) 553-1900 (Dr. Harris) or (801) 476-0052 (Dr. Anderson) and we will be happy to assist you.
Please follow our web page “Intermountainallergy.com” or Facebook page “Intermountain Allergy and Asthma - Draper, UT”, for the daily pollen count. My prediction is that we will see grass really start to climb in the next two weeks, and tree pollen will start to decline.
Thank you for allowing Intermountain Allergy and Asthma to be part of your health care team – we look forward to seeing you!