Here are some recommendations to help you through the spring and summer allergy season.

  1. Nasacort – nasal spray, works best if used daily, no odor
  2. Allegra – effective antihistamine, fewest side effects in the class
  3. Pataday, Pataday Extra Strength – great for allergy eyes
  4. Wash your hair every NIGHT before going to bed.
  5. Go for your walks in the evening. Pollen counts are highest in the mornings.

Ragweed season starts in mid-August in southwest Michigan, peaks Labor Day Weekend, and ends in late September. Those with ragweed allergy will start to notice an increase in symptoms this week.

Tips for treating ragweed allergies include avoidance (eg. stay indoors, wash hair nightly), OTC antihistamines (eg. Allegra, Zyrtec), OTC allergy nasal sprays (eg. Nasacort, Flonase), and allergy immunotherapy (eg. allergy shots, allergy oral drops).

As we enter the autumn season, it is important to realize that indoor allergies tend to worsen this time of year (particularly in the Midwest). As temperatures drop, people start to turn on their home heat at night, stirring up the dust that has settled in the furnace since the previous winter. Symptoms may include increased nasal stuffiness, sinus infections, and even a flare of asthma just to name a few. If you are experiencing such symptoms right now, and especially if you have a furry pet, the source of your problem is probably not the leaves on the ground, but rather, your cute, cuddly, furry little friend inside.

Please refer to previous posts that deal with the various way to treat allergies.

For most of those in the Midwest, ragweed season is here! It actually started last week, will peak around Labor Day Weekend, and gradually decline for the rest of September. There is no detectable ragweed by the time October rolls around.

Tips to decrease exposure to ragweed:

Stay indoors

Keep windows closed

Wash your hair/bathe nightly

Please refer to our previous posts regarding recommendations for use of OTC allergy medications.

This link is a detailed post about ragweed previously posted last year.

All allergy injections for environmental allergies will resume on Monday May 4.

New Shot Hours starting Monday May 4: 8:30am – 4pm Monday through Thursday

  • Please review our recent policy changes regarding social distancing, screening, and required facial masks as those policies will remain in effect.
  • The total number of patients/visitors in the building will be capped.

Effective immediately, ALL patients entering Park Allergy Center, whether for an appointment, treatment, or allergy injection, will be required to wear a facial mask (cloth facial coverings acceptable). All patients are asked to bring and use their own mask as our supply is almost exhausted. Following is a link to the latest CDC recommendation regarding the use of cloth facial masks in public.

As always, thank you for your understanding and trust in Park Allergy Center.

Park Allergy Center now screens all patients and visitors before they enter the office.

If you have had recent fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or exposure to anyone that has or is suspected of having SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) and are coming for your allergy injection, PLEASE STAY HOME, as you will be turned away.

If you have any of the above symptoms/exposures and are here for a non-urgent appointment, PLEASE STAY HOME, as you will be turned away.

If you have any of the above symptoms/exposures and are here for an urgent appointment, you will be asked to wear a mask and taken directly to your room.

Thank you for your understanding.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Assume you have the virus and act accordingly. Most people act defensively, trying to not to get infected. On the other hand, acting as if you already have the virus and doing your best to prevent infecting others is another step up in prevention. The number of times you clean you hands will go up significantly.

Do not let your respiratory droplets land on someone else.  Obvious sources of respiratory droplets are sneezing and coughing, but one important source that can’t be overlooked is talking.  All of us spit a little, some more than others, while we talk.  Make sure you are at least 3 feet away when talking to someone, even loved ones (yes 6 feet is even better). 

Keep your hands clean, as they are a primary source of spreading respiratory droplets.  Lick your finger? Clean your hands. Touch your face? Clean your hands. Touch your hair? Clean your hands. Eat something? Clean your hands.  Reach for another slice of pizza?  Clean your hands before grabbing another slice.  Drink something?  Small droplets of saliva can land on you hands, contaminating them.  Clean your hands. 

Further, be aggressive with your defenses.  Open or close a public door?  Clean your hands.  Pump gas into your car?  Clean your hands.  Light switch. Clean your hands.  Keyboard/mouse?  Clean your hands.  Pencil?  Clean your hands.  Get the picture?

On 1/31/20, Palforzia became the first FDA approved treatment for peanut allergy.

Here are my initial thoughts about this new product.

First of all, Palforzia isn’t really a drug at all.  Palforzia is simply peanut powder placed in capsules at specific doses ranging from 0.5mg to 300mg.  The capsule is not consumed, rather the powder is mixed with another food like apple sauce, then consumed.  

The first day is done at the doctor’s office, consisting of 5 separate doses starting at 0.5mg and ending at 6mg.

The patient then goes home and consumes 3mg once a day for 2 weeks.

Photo by Tom Hermans

Every 2 weeks, the dose is increased with the first higher dose given at the doctor’s office.

If all goes well the build up schedule is completed in 22 weeks and the patient then takes a daily maintenance dose of 300mg.  If you miss 3 days or more, you need to reduce the dose or perhaps even start all over.

Just in case you’re wondering, the average peanut contains about 200mg of peanut protein.  So the maintenance dose of 300mg is equal to about 1.5 peanuts.

Palforzia is not a cure for peanut allergy.  It decreases the chance of having an allergic reaction to a small ingestion of peanut (1-2 peanuts).

In the studies for Palforzia, the rate of anaphylaxis during the build up phase was 9.4%.

The rate of anaphylaxis during the maintenance phase was 8.7%

Other reactions like abdominal pain were as high as 67% in the build up phase, 30% in the maintenance phase.

And remember, the vast majority of the doses are given at home.

So, as you can see, Palforzia is not the “cure” we have been hoping for.

If offers some protection against accidental reactions – but acquiring that protection comes with risk.

Further, in similar desensitization studies previously done using peanut powder, the dropout rate in patients who successfully reached maintenance dose was 50% after the 1st year.  It turns out, it’s not easy to consume a maintenance dose of peanuts every single day.

In summary, I do not think the risk is worth the reward for most people when it comes to Palforzia.  

The best treatment advice for most peanut allergic patients remains strict avoidance and to have injectable epinephrine readily available in case of accidental ingestion and reaction.

However, for parents and patients who want to take the risk, Palforzia offers a convenient way to obtain precise doses of peanut protein to attempt desensitization.

Michael Park, MD