Back to School is the time to get tested before Fall Allergy Season begins

As Americans return to work and school from summer vacation, the fall allergy season will begin to impact many of the nearly 50 million allergy sufferers across the country. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Americans lost more than 6 million work and school days in 2018, costing about $18 billion. While this is a busy time for many, we recommend that those suffering take control of their allergy symptoms by getting tested before symptoms are present.

A key step in understanding what triggers your symptoms is with an allergy test. Through a series of gentle skin pricks, a patient’s skin is exposed to geographically specific seasonal and perennial allergens plus common indoor allergy triggers. Evaluation of the skin’s reaction identifies the allergens to target for each individual.

“For almost any medical condition, early detection often yields the best results. Allergies should be treated no differently,” said Dr. Frederick M. Schaffer, chief medical officer of United Allergy Services. “As allergy sufferers know, a rise in allergy symptoms typically coincides with an increase in medication use. Because the presence of antihistamines can impact the accuracy of test results, we try to encourage people to get tested before their allergy triggers are in the air.”

While allergic triggers vary between regions and patients, the most common cause this time of year is ragweed, a common allergen that can travel for hundreds of miles and has a pollination season that continues to lengthen.

Once test results are analyzed, a patient has several options for treatment. The most effective option is immunotherapy, with up to 85% seeing improvement through the course of treatment. Through treatments like ours, patients can undergo immunotherapy at home while under the care of a general practitioner, taking control of their allergies and working towards long-term relief from their symptoms. While we recommend at least three years of treatment for patients to experience long-term results, many experience some symptom relief after the first 12 months, which could be good news for when fall allergy season comes around next year.

 

Sources:

CDC, Gateway to Health Communication and Social Marketing Practice, Allergies, 2018
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Fall Allergy Capitals report, 2018
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change Indicators: Ragweed Pollen Season, 2016
“Allergen-specific immunotherapy provides immediate, long-term and preventive clinical effects in children and adults,” Jacobsen et al. Clinical and Translational Allergy, 2012


San Antonio Express-News article looks at how UAS is moving forward

In July, the San Antonio Express-News published an article on United Allergy Services' history within the allergy space and how our company is moving forward from here. The story titled "San Antonio-based company shakes up allergy industry," touches on some of the bumps and industry pushback that UAS has faced on its way to establishing itself as a leader in the world of home-based immunotherapy.

While the piece also echoes our detractors' stance -- one that UAS has combated in previous litigation, also noted in the article -- featured quotes from UAS Chief Executive Officer David Boone and board-certified immunologist Dr. Edward Brooks reflect why we as a company continue to push forward. These reasons include the nationwide need for better access to allergy care, especially in rural communities, as well as the ability for allergen immunotherapy to improve lives and help reduce the economic impact that allergies have in America.

"'We really revolutionized allergy care, which made the allergists angry,' CEO David Boone said. I think it caught a lot of people off-guard.'

'There’s no doubt that there’s a need for it, especially in the small towns,' where allergists are often scarce, [Dr. Brooks] said. Despite more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies, he said, allergists make up a small specialty in medicine. 'Obviously, we can’t serve the entire population,' he said. Companies such as UAS, he added, could screen patients and refer the more complicated cases to specialists."

You can read the entire article, written by healthcare reporter Laura Garcia, on Express-News website by clicking here or as a PDF by clicking here.


MySA story highlights United Allergy Services' role in the allergy space

In July, United Allergy Services was featured in a story on mySA.com. The first section of the article, titled "How immunotherapy is changing lives for people with allergies", looks at the allergy epidemic in America:

"Allergies pose a genuine health risk beyond stuffy noses and itchy, watery eyes. Those with intense allergic symptoms find their quality of life drastically affected, leading to missed school and work days, or even emergency room visits. Severe allergy sufferers may experience intense congestion, sneezing, hives or eczema, plus difficulty breathing. Of the 26 million Americans who suffer from asthma, around 60% have allergic asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, meaning that the serious, life-threatening respiratory distress of asthma is triggered by allergic reactions to pollen and other substances."

The article goes on to explain the history of allergen immunotherapy and how it can still play a role in bridging the gap in allergy care:

"More than a century later, only 20% of allergy sufferers see an allergy specialist. And those that do must stick to a regimented schedule of frequent in-office visits for treatment for it to be effective. Now, innovation in allergy immunotherapy means patients can be tested by their general practitioner instead of seeking out a specialist, and then conduct their own treatment at home. That makes it more convenient to not only seek treatment but also stay committed to the immunotherapy protocol as it helps their bodies build up resistance to the allergens that impact their lives. At-home immunotherapy allows allergy sufferers to treat themselves over time."

The piece closes with a look at the efficacy of UAS's treatment program, including a quote from one patient whose quality of life has benefited from immunotherapy:

"Tiffany Conner of North Carolina says, 'I have lived with allergies my entire life and now I have almost no symptoms. Going through at-home immunotherapy treatment was the best decision I could have made.'"

You can read the entire story from mySA.com by clicking here.


2018 forecasts call for longer allergy seasons

2018 forecasts call for longer allergy seasons


March 12, 2018

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American allergy sufferers have come to know what to expect throughout the year – oak in spring; grass over the late spring and early summer months; ragweed in late summer through autumn; cedar in fall through winter – as their fluctuating symptoms follow the changing of the seasons.

Recent years, however, have seen significant shifts in allergy seasons, with some occurring earlier in the year and others lasting longer than normal. With global pollen counts also on the rise, these changes paint a slightly different picture for allergy sufferers around the country. Here’s what you need to know as you look ahead to the rest of 2018.

Earlier spring allergies

For several years, spring allergies have been occurring earlier. That means plants and trees, many of which bud when temperatures get warm enough, flowering weeks ahead of schedule and releasing more pollen into the air.

Punxsutawney Phil may have recently called for six more weeks of winter, but that will not likely apply to spring allergies in 2018. In Nevada, pollen monitors have already registered unseasonably high counts, signaling an early start to this spring allergy season. A February report in New Orleans highlighted a high number of hospitalizations due to allergies, while doctors in Orlando believe their city could be entering “one of the worst allergy seasons ever.”

Longer weed pollination seasons

Warmer temperatures don’t just mean earlier springs – they also mean milder autumns, which lead to longer pollination seasons for ragweed and other weeds.

Ragweed is an allergenic plant that pollinates in tropical and subtropical climates, typically the season lasts from August through October. It is one of the most common causes of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) for millions of Americans in the autumn months. Ragweed thrives in warmer temperatures and is dispersed by the wind, with each plant capable of producing up to one billion pollen grains. Its pollen has been found as far as 400 miles out to sea and 2 miles up in the atmosphere.

With longer autumns come longer ragweed seasons. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the EPA found a dramatic increase in ragweed seasonacross many parts of the United States and Canada, with select areas experiencing almost a month more of ragweed season.

Changes in climate have not only affected when ragweed season occurs; they may also be extending where it occurs. In Europe, the far-reaching weed is expected to become more prevalent in new geographical regions that are becoming more climatically hospitable to it. Such a development would impact millions of people in countries like Denmark, France, Germany and Russia who are not currently exposed to it.

Higher year-round pollen counts

Underlying these two seasonal shifts is an expectation in the scientific community that year-round pollen counts will only continue to rise in the coming decades. A 2012 report by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that pollen counts are expected to more than double by 2040.

“In the year 2000, pollen counts averaged 8,455. Fast forward to 2040, and these counts are anticipated to reach 21,735. Researchers predict counts in 20-year increments up to the year 2100 and are incorporating various climatic factors in their models including weather patterns, changes in precipitation and temperature.”

For allergy sufferers with allergic asthma, higher pollen counts inevitably leads to increased risk and severity of asthma attacks, along with worsened symptoms on a week-to-week basis.

What can you do to prepare?

With more intense allergy seasons on the future forecast, people with airborne allergies will benefit from preparing as best they can. The first step is knowing what their sensitivities are, ideally by undergoing an allergy test. By doing so, you will understand the times of year that you’re most at risk and be able to plan their avoidance accordingly.

There’s also a number of allergy treatment options you can explore, from over-the-counter medications to allergen immunotherapy. While the former can help you combat symptoms on a daily basis, the latter offers a long-term solution – one which may be all the more necessary given the changes in the air.


5 interesting cases of allergic cross-reactivity

5 interesting cases of allergic cross-reactivity


February 2, 2018

Allergy sufferers cope with their sensitivities in a number of ways, from over-the-counter medication and immunotherapy treatment to simple avoidance. Yet, even if a person was to employ every known method of avoidance, it’s still possible he or she would still experience an allergic reaction at a time when an allergen is nowhere to be seen.

The reason why is cross-reactivity, a phenomenon in which “the proteins in one substance are similar to the proteins found in another substance”. That means that a person allergic to a particular pollen may see a similar reaction after eating a nut, spice, or piece of fruit that is cross-reactive with that particular pollen.

When we consume a cross-reactive protein, the ensuing reaction is known as oral allergy syndrome, or pollen-food allergy syndrome. Oral allergy syndrome can be triggered by a variety of foods that many of us eat on a daily basis, resulting in mild to moderate symptoms that range from swelling and itching around the mouth to watery eyes and runny noses.

With that in mind, here are five cases of cross-reactivity to keep an eye out for the next time you’re at the grocery store.

1. Cypress pollen and peaches, citrus fruits

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A recently discovered cross-reactivity according to Science Daily, peaches and citrus fruits such as oranges have demonstrated a possibility for allergic reactions. For people with cypress allergies, that is an issue not only when eating raw citrus fruits but when eating fruit-based products such as jams and marmalades.

2. Ragweed and melons, bananas, cantaloupe

Weeds are cross-reactive with a number of foods, and the association between ragweed and these sweet fruits is among the most common. Ragweed season typically occurs between late summer through fall, but ragweed allergy sufferers may find themselves facing similar symptoms after biting into a banana or slice of melon or cantaloupe.

3. Grass and watermelon, melons, tomatoes and oranges

Grasses like Timothy and Johnson can wreak havoc on allergy sufferers. So, too, can their cross-reactive cousins in the produce aisle of your local supermarket.

4. Birch and peanuts, hazelnuts

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Many people suffer from common peanut allergies, while some may actually be allergic to birch tree pollen, which shares a similar protein to both peanuts and hazelnuts. According to PeanutAllergy.com, cooked and roasted nuts may also pose a threat, since their proteins are less sensitive to heat than others.

5. Mugwort and spices (anis, basil, chamomile, cilantro, dill, fennel, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, tarragon, thyme, and more)

Looking to spice up your life? It’s advised that you make sure you’re not allergic to mugwort, a weed that is cross-reactive with a number of spices you’ll find in your cupboard.

There are many other cross-reactive associations not listed here, which is why it’s important to understand both what your allergic sensitivities are, and what fruits, vegetables, nuts or spices they may be associated with.

Allergy awareness and avoidance are two positive steps you can take to combat allergies in your day-to-day life, but a better understanding of cross-reactivity is also important, helping ensure you know what to pick up – and what not to pick up – the next time you go grocery shopping.


How to Minimize Dog Shedding

How to Minimize Dog Shedding


June 2, 2017

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May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month


May 2, 2017

The facts are staggering:

  • 1 in 5 Americans are affected by Asthma and Allergies1.
  • 1 in 10 children have asthma2.
  • Asthma and Allergy are the leading cause of missed school and work days3.

We are all familiar with the typical allergy symptoms; however, allergies can also manifest as fatigue, trouble focusing, depression, slowed thinking, ear infections, and dark circles/puffiness under the eyes.

Take the month of May to focus on potential Asthma and Allergy symptoms to improve the quality of life of your patients!

Sources:

  1. AAFA
  2. CDC. National Surveillance of Asthma: United States, 2001-2010. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_035.pdf.
  3. [1] Centers for Disease Control. Asthma. http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/default.htm.


Mylan Issues a Voluntary Recall for Epi Pen and Epi Pen Jr.

Mylan Issues a Voluntary Recall for Epi Pen and Epi Pen Jr.


April 13, 2017

As of March 31, 2017, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has issued a voluntary recall for Epi Pen and Epi Pen Jr, epinephrine autoinjectors, from 13 specified lots.

FILE – In this July 8, 2016, file photo, a pharmacist holds a package of EpiPens epinephrine auto-injector, a Mylan product, in Sacramento, Calif. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is defending the cost for life-saving EpiPens and is offering no suggestion that there are plans to lower prices. Bresch’s prepared testimony was released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ahead of her Sept. 21 appearance before the panel. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The recall is due to a potential defective part that would result in the devices’ failure to activate. Although there have been a small number of defective devices reported, Mylan is taking proactive actions to ensure the safety of their products.

The recalled products were distributed between Dec. 17, 2015 and July 1, 2016. Please check your epinephrine autoinjectors and compare with the Mylan Site for lot numbers and steps to return and replace your defective epinephrine autoinjector.

For additional information please view the FDA’s official press release, here.


Empowering Physicians to Fight Seasonal Allergies with Immunotherapy

Empowering Physicians to Fight Seasonal Allergies with Immunotherapy


June 1, 2015

“UAS is providing a way for primary care physicians to test and treat their patients with chronic allergic symptoms in a way that is safe and effective, while improving their quality of life.” Here, John Thresher of United Allergy Services sets the record straight.

See the full article


NEW PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLE DEMONSTRATES SAFETY OF SELF-ADMINISTERED ALLERGY SHOTS

NEW PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLE DEMONSTRATES SAFETY OF SELF-ADMINISTERED ALLERGY SHOTS


December 17, 2014

(Dec. 16, 2014) SAN ANTONIO – United Allergy Services (UAS) ®, a leading healthcare services company assisting family physicians and health systems to deliver safe and effective allergy testing and customized immunotherapy services, today announced the publication of an original article that analyzes the safety of implementing a self-administration protocol of allergen immunotherapy characterized by patient pre-selection and a slow buildup process. The peer-reviewed article written by Frederick M. Schaffer, M.D., a board certified allergist and lead investigator of the study, Andrew Naples and Larry Garner has been published online in the International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology.

The article, “The safety of self-administered allergen immunotherapy during the buildup and maintenance phases” concludes that the risk of systemic, or adverse, reaction is lower with UAS treatment protocol than traditional dosage and fast buildup, or RUSH, methods that involve immunotherapy shots administered at a physician’s office. The UAS protocol in the study was administered by primary care physicians and is characterized by self-administration at home. Investigators conclude that the results are driven by UAS patient pre-selection to exclude those with a high risk of adverse reactions and slower, more incremental, immunotherapy buildup phase as a self-administered treatment for patients suffering from seasonal and perennial allergies.

The article states, “The enhanced safety of this protocol results in a decreased frequency and severity of adverse reactions. This safety report corroborates and expands the observations of previous studies of self-administered, subcutaneous immunotherapy in a low-risk patient population by assessing self-administered allergen immunotherapy during the buildup and maintenance phases.”

Until recently, the only real relief for allergies and allergic asthma remained primarily in the hands of allergists who administer immunotherapy shots. This already small community of approximately 5,000 U.S. specialists is expected to decline 6.8 percent by 2020, while demand for allergy-related services is projected to grow 35 percent in the same timeframe. This forecast only scratches the surface of the true demand for allergy and asthma care, as only a portion of the approximately 60 million Americans suffering from allergic rhinitis are aware of their condition and seek specialty care.

About United Allergy Services
United Allergy Services ® (UAS) brings effective and convenient allergy testing and immunotherapy to primary care physicians, pulmonologists, ENT physicians, pediatricians, internal medicine physicians, and healthcare systems that treat the vast majority of patients with seasonal and perennial allergies. UAS’ complete service line features in-office UAS Certified Clinical Allergy Technician staffing and training; quality assurance and compliance; and supply and inventory management. By collaborating with physicians to safely administer allergy testing and shots, UAS has assisted the expansion of access to effective allergy care for thousands of patients that suffer from seasonal and perennial allergies.

“Allergist-Immunologists.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.

“Number of Board Certified Allergists in the United States.” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2013. .

Allergist report.(n.d.). Retrieved from http://college.acaai.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/AllergistReport.pdf