For 14 years, Heiddy Lackner has dealt with severe, year-round allergies. Enjoying a spring or fall day wasn't an option and caused concern. Even opening the windows for fresh air was not a wise idea. "It's hard when it's the air that causes this suffering," she explained. "Where do you go?"
The worst part: Taking several antihistamines twice a day in addition to nasal spray, and then dealing with the medications' side effects. It was a juggling act for Heiddy until her doctor suggested meeting with Luz Fonacier, MD, Head of the Allergy Section at Winthrop-University Hospital.
"Eventually, I want to start a family, but with all the medications I was on, I had concerns," she explained. Planning her future, she decided to take a different course of action: Immunotherapy.
When allergies like Mrs. Lackner's strike, over-the-counter (OTC) medications and a large supply of tissues are often not enough to treat irritating symptoms. eat irritating symptoms. sues are often not enough to treat irritating symptoms. Immunotherapy may be the answer for such severe allergy sufferers--especially those who are highly symptomatic for more than three months out of the year and those with complications of allergic rhinitis and asthma.
"There's a group of patients that are poorly responsive to allergen avoidance, OTC and prescription allergy medications, or take the medications but develop side effects," explained Dr. Fonacier. "Immunotherapy may be suitable for those individuals."
Immunotherapy involves the manipulation of the immune system via injections containing low doses of substances the patient is allergic to. By increasing the doses, immunotherapy decreases the allergic and inflammatory responses, and helps lessen future bouts.
For the past two years, Mrs. Lackner has sought relief through weekly immunotherapy shots administered by Dr. Fonacier.
Depending on the patient's immune system, it may take up to six months to a year for the weekly shots to attain maximum efficacy. Thereafter, monthly maintenance shots are required for three to five years, and for some patients, longer.
"One downside is that immunotherapy is herapy is that time consuming," said Dr. Fonacier, explaining that patients must set aside half an hour a week or a month to receive the shot and evaluation. "However, patients tell me it's time well-spent to experience relief."
Immunotherapy must be given under the supervision of an allergist, who is equipped to manage an allergic reaction, monitor its efficacy, and follow up all the manifestations of allergic diseases.
Mrs. Lackner began immunotherapy two years ago. Today, she's never felt better; suffering only from the occasional pressure headache.
"I would definitely recommend this therapy and Dr. Fonacier to anyone tired of dealing with allergies," she explained. "While it's a slow process before the effect kicks in, it was 100% worth it. The fact that I can feel comfortable going outside and not having to worry is the best relief."
For more information about immunotherapy, call Winthrop's Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology at (516) 663-2098/2097.
Dear Mr. Walsh,
On behalf of our entire family, we would like to express our deep appreciation and gratitude for the professional and heartwarming care that our mother received over the past two months at the hands of your courteous staff. We cannot thank you enough or express our appreciation.
Because of the care we received, our mother is doing great now and her health is improving day by day. We greatly appreciate everything the physicians, staff and all of the nurses in the Intensive Care Unit have done for our family.
MM, New Hyde Park