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Welcome relief

Allergies no longer control woman's life
thanks to allergy shots
Allergy sufferer Lana Bergmann no longer sees the world through itchy, red, watery eyes. Gone are the persistent headaches, congestion and fatigue.

This “night-and-day difference,” as she describes it, came thanks to treatment provided by Dr. James Larson, Sanford Health allergist.

Initially, Bergmann tried to manage her allergy symptoms with over-the-counter medications and later progressed to prescription medications. Neither option provided the comfort she desired.

“I wasn’t getting enough relief and was miserable so much of the time,” she said. “My only other option was the allergy shots.”

Allergic to trees, grass, weeds, dust mites, cats and mold, she experienced symptoms year round. After she and her family moved
  Lana Bergmann used to suffer from allergies
Lana Bergmann used to suffer allergy symptoms year round, but she found relief from an allergy-shot regimen and now can spend time outside without worrying about the
allergen level.
from Texas to Bismarck, she also began developing symptoms to trees, grasses and molds native to North Dakota. She began allergy shots in the spring of 2009, six months after arriving here.

Dr. James Larson
Dr. James Larson
  Bergmann fits the typical profile of patients who choose allergy shots.

“Inability to control symptoms with medications or the inability to control exposure to the allergen is the primary reason people choose the allergy-shot program,” Dr. Larson said. “Other factors include the severity of symptoms, the length of the allergy season and desire to avoid long-term medication use
and cost.”

For those spending up to $100 in medications each month, the allergy-shot program is comparable in price, running between $1,000 and $1,500 per year for the cost of the extract.

Patients taking allergy shots experience a significant improvement within six weeks to three months and can anticipate an 85-percent improvement of
allergy symptoms over two years. However, there is also an 85-percent improvement rate with pills and nasal sprays.

“Many people are drawn to an allergy-shot program because they can achieve a permanent modification of the allergy problem,” Dr. Larson said. “That’s significant, because in three to five years, I can probably eliminate a problem that would have lasted 30 or 40 years.”

Allergy shots work by decreasing sensitivity to allergens, substances that trigger allergies. After skin testing to confirm the patient’s allergens, increasing amounts of the allergen are injected over a period of three to five years.

There is an initial time commitment for those considering allergy shots. Patients begin with weekly shots. Once the maximum dosage is reached, the time between shots is extended to two to four weeks. During the allergy season, they are seen every two weeks and then monthly during the winter months. After each shot, patients must stay in the office for at least 20 minutes to make certain there isn’t a reaction.

“Dr. Larson has been phenomenal,” Bergmann said. “He asked me about my lifestyle to determine how it affects my allergies. He isn’t just treating your allergies—he’s treating you. That’s really important.”

Bergmann now is enjoying everyday activities without the influence of allergy symptoms.

“I don’t let outdoor allergens affect whether I spend time outside,” she said. “Allergies tend to make you extremely tired and grumpy. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my mood and energy level.”

She recommends the allergy-shot program and has no second thoughts about the time commitment.

“It can be time-consuming and challenging to make the appointments each week, but in the long run, the effects of reducing your symptoms are well worth it,” she said. “My allergies no longer are in control.”

Click here for more information on Sanford Health allergy services.


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