OKLAHOMA CITY – Experts confirmed earlier this year, the spring of 2013 will go down as the longest, most severe allergy season of all times, across the United States.
Here in Oklahoma, the wind, the weeds and the weather are a dangerous, potentially deadly, combo for allergy sufferers.
For many Oklahomans, “seasonal allergies” are a year-round battle.
Trees in bloom, blowing pollen bring watery eyes, scratchy throat, headache and sometimes worse.
The 2013 seasonal allergy season started two weeks earlier than normal and is expected to last about one month longer than normal.
According to Forbes, the anti-allergy drug market, the stuff allergy sufferers take just to breathe, is anticipated to exceed $14 billion a year in the U.S. by 2015.
Dr. Jason Sigmon with the Northwest Sinus and Allergy Clinic has been treating allergies for 12 years.
He said one reason many families don’t have their kids tested is because of the irritating diagnosis skin test, which requires patients be free of all their allergy medication.
He uses a blood test instead.
“To see your child struggling to breath is dramatic,” he said. “A lot of times it’s allergy triggers causing those symptoms. We want those patients to be identified and we want those families to know there’s more that they can do.”
Seven-year-old Cole Barnum developed hearing loss and a speech impairment because of severe seasonal allergies.
“He just kept getting sick constantly, strep constantly,” Cole’s mother, Karen Barnum said. “His little immune system was just shot.”
It’s the same science as allergy shots, without the shot.One year ago, Cole started an immunotherapy program called “Oasis” which is gradually desensitizing his immune system to allergens.
Karen said, “It’s so worth it for him to not have to have shots.”
Immunotherapy only works if you stick with it and the drop-out rate for allergy shots is high.
“Compared to last year, significantly better,” Karen said. “He was so sick last year, yes, much better.”
Some practices in town, like the Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic, are sticking with the shots for now.
They said they are skeptical about the effectiveness of Oasis drops.
“Most people who need allergy treatment, they’re allergic to more than one thing,” Dr. Lauren Chong said. “So with injections, you’re able to treat multiple allergens at one time. However studies have not yet shown how to effectively treat people with multiple allergens at one time doing drops.”
The drops have been widely used in Europe for years.
The World Health Organization has concluded they are a viable alternative to allergy shots.
Oasis allergy drops are not covered by insurance and the treatment costs about $80 a month.