Saturday, March 23, 2013

And We Asked... How Are We Doing?

Allergy shots, first developed in the early 1900's, are a proven way of semi-permanently changing your immune system so you tolerate the allergens that make you sick.  For example, persons allergic to cats, can get shots and then be around them with a reduction in symptoms.

Allergy shots are a wonderful treatment tool and patients often tell me the shots changed their life.  By using them, they can interact with animals, clean, play sports, and live their life without constantly feeling sick.

Traditional allergy shots are time intensive and require weekly visits for about 20 weeks to build up.  Because of this, many patients don't complete the prescribed treatment regimin or the cost of copays is too much.

Since I opened in 2009, I've offered an alternative to traditional allergy shots called cluster shots.  Using cluster shots, we give a series of injections in the office over about 9 weeks of time.  What are the advantages?  Patients feel better soon, less time for our patients, increased compliance, and less money in co-pays for the patients.  Great, right!?

There are some risks associated with both traditional and cluster allergy shots. As you can imagine, that by giving more of the allergen that you are allergic to, you are more likely to have an allergic reaction.  The risk of an allergic reaction is higher during cluster allergy shots than traditional therapy because of the increased dosage.

We asked the question- what was the incidence of systemic allergic reaction for cluster immunotherapy (allergy shots) in our office compared to previous reports?

In August, Danielle, a fantastic medical student from University of Pennsylvania, used her summer break to go through all of my charts and gather data.  She worked with my nurse Jayeon, a mentor of mine, Dr. DeVos at Jacobi Medical center and myself to put together an abstract.  With everyones hard work, we were accepted for poster presentation at the 2013Academy of Allergy and Immunology's conference in San Antonio TX where we presented our data on systemic reactions to allergy shots in our office.

We just returned from a really fantastic conference (more on that in the upcoming blogs) were she presented to a warm reception.

What did we find out?  We are doing a great job!

The incidence of reaction in our patients over the past 3 1/2 years is about 10%.  This is much lower than the 33% -79% in other reports.  Additionally, most of the reactions we had were very mild (hives). Why do we think our incidence is less than other reports?  I think it has a lot to do with our patients being good at following directions and taking there medications as directed.

Want to look at the data for yourself?  Here's a PDF of the poster and a link to the abstract published in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology in February. The Incidence of Systemic Allergic Reaction During Subcutaneous and Cluster Immunotherapy: A Retrospective Chart Review

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