For most people, changes in seasons signal the beginning of warm, lazy days or cool, crisp evenings. But for one in 10 Americans who suffer from pollen allergies, changes in seasons can mean misery.
Just ask Holly Chase (not her real name). Her sneezing, runny nose, and constant nasal congestion started when she moved from Los Angeles to Portland 12 years ago. “My friends warned me that Oregon is notorious for year-round allergies, but I had no idea it would last this long,” she said.
According to Justin Rufener, MD, specialist at The Oregon Clinic Ear, Nose & Throat – Plaza, Holly’s situation is common in the Portland area. “When people move from an arid climate, many develop allergies,” Dr. Rufener said. “The Northwest has a variety of year-round pollens accompanied by lots of mold in the winter. We basically live in a garden. One of the downsides of living in a garden is that there are lots of inhaled allergens. Trees, grass, dust mites, and pet dander are allergens in the Northwest.”
After an initial consultation with a physician, patients at Ear, Nose & Throat – Plaza receive allergy screening and in-depth testing followed by explanation of the results and appropriate treatment options. The initial screening can take up to two hours. If allergy shots are determined to be the best overall option, treatment consists of one to four years of weekly injections.
Allergy testing begins by swabbing the arm with preloaded doses of antigens, pollens, dust, molds, etc., to get a quick idea which substances cause the most severe response. The allergy specialist then injects the substances that caused the strongest response under the skin in progressively stronger concentrations. The patient’s skin reaction shows how allergic he or she is to a particular substance. The physician then uses the patient’s sensitivity level to determine a safe dosage strength if allergy injections are necessary.
Physicians at Ear, Nose & Throat Plaza, including Dr. Rufener and Drs. Michael Flaming and Andrew Pedersen, are members of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy (AAOA), representing more than 2,700 board-certified otolaryngologists and health care providers. Otolaryngology, frequently referred to as Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT), uniquely combines medical and surgical expertise to care for patients with a variety of conditions affecting the head and neck, as well as commonly related conditions. AAOA members devote part of their practice to the diagnosis and treatment of allergic disease. The Oregon Clinic Ear, Nose & Throat – Plaza is located at 5050 NE Hoyt, Suite 655, in Portland. To make an appointment, please call (503) 488-2400.