Cost, Effectiveness, & Safety of Allergy Testing

Published 08/29 2014 10:48AM

Updated 12/04 2014 01:40PM

Earlier this month began something allergy sufferers absolutely dread.  Hay fever season.  Allergists say pollen and ragweed counts this year haven't been this bad in the past decade.

WFFT's Rohma Siddiqui, an allergy sufferer herself, explored the cost, effectiveness, and safety of allergy testing.

"Hives, congestion, shortness of breath."

Fort Wayne ranks 53rd in the Forbes Top 100 list of Worst Cities for Allergies and that's bad news for Jim Davis, an allergy sufferer who has year round allergies to ragweed and his pet dogs.

He noticed much worse symptoms this year and opted for allergy shots.  He says the weekly shots make his over the counter antihistamines much more effective.

"The shots really make them work better."

Before you can even thing about getting allergy shots, you have to go through an allergy test.  Dr William Smits at the Allergy and Asthma Center tells WFFT that this test is safe even for small children and anyone who isn't seeing results from over the counter medicine should consider getting tested.

As an allergy sufferer herself, Rohma decided to go through the testing experience.  It wasn't as painful as she expected.  Around 200 pricks of different allergens on her back and after a half hour wait, she found out she was allergic to cats, dust mites, and ragweed.

So once they know what you are allergic to, you can start the shots.  After your first year of weekly allergy shots, you will gradually decrease to only one shot per month.

Cost wise, WFFT found allergy testing and shots to be quite pricey around Fort Wayne without health insurance.  The test itself can run you over the thousand dollar range and then there's a monthly cost for the shots.

The first year is the most expensive and after that the shot pricing usually drops by half.

"It's minimal because of my insurance."

Allergy shots is a therapy that reverses the disease process and could actually potentially be a cure for allergies unlike the medicines which are an ongoing thing.

Dr. Smit says there are noticeable long term benefits because they are like a vaccination process and after 3-5 years of regular shots, you may not need shots or antihistamines.

He says long term, the shots are more effective than over the counter medicine.

"Continue the vaccination process or immunization process in hopes that we got a lifetime benefit rather than just a few years."

Initially the body is allergic to what's in the shots, which is why they start off by giving small amounts and gradually increase the does to increase the person's tolerance.

So what exactly is in these shots?

"It's actually purified allergen extract which is the exact thing that is from the pollens themselves or fragments of dust mites themselves."

These allergens are injected under the skin instead of into the blood stream for a slower release.

"I'm allergic to dust, dust mites, all things related to dust and I've noticed recently it hasn't been as bad because I've been getting the shots."

Mari Ziggi suffers year round from allergies.  She says her allergies are not as bad anymore.  She recommends the allergy test because it pinpoints exactly what you're allergic to.

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