09:19 AM

LVPG Ear, Nose and Throat Offers Allergy Program

Winter testing allows treatments to be implemented before spring allergens emerge

Patients ages 16 and older who experience allergy symptoms, such as chronic rhinitis, nasal congestion and post-nasal drainage, can now be evaluated at LVPG Ear, Nose and Throat for reactions to airborne environmental allergens.

Skin testing

The full-service environmental allergy program offers testing panels for pollens, grasses and molds specific to northeastern Pennsylvania, as well as dust mites. The gold standard of allergy skin testing, which involves a prick test on the surface of the skin and subcutaneous testing (an injection of the diluted allergen), is available. It can detect a patient’s sensitivity to these common inhalants. “We’re also going to be testing for penicillin allergies,” says Kevin Kriesel, MD, a comprehensive otolaryngologist who joined LVPG in September 2016. In childhood, many patients get labeled “pen allergic.” However, it is estimated that greater than 90 percent may not be truly allergic.1 “If patients aren’t allergic, it opens up amoxicillin, penicillin and a whole class of medications,” Kriesel says.

LVPG’s allergy program will not test for food allergies or stinging insects, such as bees, wasps or yellow jackets, which require a more complex testing procedure.

Symptom management

Testing for airborne environmental allergies in winter is advised so that a treatment plan can be implemented before the spring, when airborne environmental allergens are in full force. If patients test positive, “the first line of defense is always avoidance,” Kriesel says. Reducing exposure to grasses by avoiding them, or dust mites with protective pillowcases and mattress covers, can often alleviate symptoms enough to prevent patients from requiring treatment.

Still, many patients can benefit from immunotherapy, which is covered by most insurance plans. Patients are given very small doses of the allergen by injection in the office twice a week, which gradually modifies the body’s overreactive immune response. “Allergy shots can take four to six months to reach maximum effectiveness,” Kriesel says.

Over an average of two to three years, the injection schedule is eventually modified to once a week, then to a once-monthly maintenance dose, depending on the patient’s tolerance and response. The long-term commitment on the patient’s part can be worth it. “Immunotherapy offers patients the ability to live here without having to take a bunch of medications, which don’t always completely treat all of their symptoms,” Kriesel says.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications and steroid injections are also available for patients who are not candidates for immunotherapy or don’t want to get them. “We treat based on patients’ preferences and their best options,” Kriesel says.

Allergy services are also offered in Hazleton at ENT Surgical Associates at the Health & Wellness Center at Hazleton (50 Moisey Drive, Suite 212, Hazleton, PA 18202; 570-459-5030).

  1. “Penicillin allergy FAQ.” American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/penicillin-allergy-faq.