The Southwest Ohio region is a hotbed of allergens that impact the quality of life for many residents. Common seasonal allergens are tree pollen (March–June), grass pollen (May–July) and ragweed (August–October). Year-round allergens are usually indoors and include pets, dust mites, cockroaches and mold.
Yes, allergies are common, but they don’t have to be a way of life. Are you tired of feeling chronically congested through the seasons? Kiss your allergy symptoms goodbye.
We spoke with Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD, UC Health Otolaryngologist at West Chester Hospital, about allergies. Here's what he had to say.
Allergy symptoms can make everyday life challenging—when is it time to contact an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist?
Allergies are very treatable, and no one should ever try to “get used to” their symptoms and the associated decreased well-being. Yes, allergies are particularly common where we live in the Ohio River Valley, but that doesn’t mean being symptomatic is a way of life—we can help you feel much better!
How do you determine the right treatment path for each patient?
Using our knowledge from the latest clinical trials, we recommend treatment options tailored to the patients’ needs. For example, our own current research focuses on identifying patient characteristics that may be associated with greater responses to particular allergy medicines. This research allows us to examine a patient and, based on their characteristics, make a personalized recommendation for treatment that maximizes the chances of efficacy.
What makes your patient approach unique?
We consider all elements of the patient’s situation, including the mind/body connection. We are cognizant of the fact that emotional well-being affects outcomes as much as any allergy-specific symptom. We understand extra-nasal symptoms such as poor sleep quality and craniofacial discomfort are factors affecting the patient’s quality of life. We consider all elements of allergies in order to maximize outcomes for patients and their comfort.
We work closely with our sleep medicine colleagues to develop plans for treatment of poor sleep, as well as with our neurology colleagues in treating prominent symptoms of facial pain, pressure and discomfort. Additionally, because allergies are associated with inflammation in the lower airways (i.e. asthma), we also work closely with our pulmonary medicine colleagues to ensure that our asthmatic allergy patients have appropriate treatment for their asthma. We perform all allergy testing and immunotherapy in our office so that patients don’t need to travel elsewhere. They can conveniently receive all of their care in one place.
What treatments are available, besides the standard allergy shots?
Some allergy sufferers are sometimes reluctant to seek medical therapy for various reasons, and for those people, we offer new procedures to block the nerves in the nose that stimulate and aggravate allergy symptoms such as runny nose and sneezing. We also offer the latest in-office procedures, such as cryotherapy, which freezes nerves in the nose, as well as minimally invasive surgery to selectively cut the nerves that cause mucus production in the nose.
How does one know if they’re experiencing normal allergic reactions or something more serious?
Sometimes a more serious condition called chronic rhinosinusitis may present with symptoms that seem like severe allergies, such as: nasal blockage, drainage, facial pressure or decreased sense of smell. If symptoms are persistent and last for more than three months, you should seek an evaluation with an ENT sinus specialist.
What research are you currently involved in?
We’re involved in many clinical studies to better understand the effects of allergies on our patients and to understand the efficacy of allergy treatments. Our ENT team was the first to show that allergies are much more than just the classical nasal symptoms; the impact of allergies on sleep quality and facial discomfort are the major drivers of decreased quality of life. We are also participating in clinical trials to study the efficacy of the latest treatment options for allergies.
UC Health’s Ear, Nose & Throat program was ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2018-19 as one of the top 50 programs in the nation. What makes UC Health stand out among other establishments?
UC Health is the only regional health system staffed by physicians who are nationally and internationally renowned experts in allergies and who are at the forefront of diagnosing and treating allergies. Our physicians actively conduct research and present lectures around the world to teach other clinicians. Our team has long been at the forefront of immunotherapy for our allergy patients. In addition to allergy shots, we offer sublingual (placed under the tongue) forms of immunotherapy and the most up-to-date allergy medications, including novel delivery mechanisms for intranasal steroids.