SEASONAL ALLERGIES. It´s almost that time of the year again. Immunotherapy.

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It's almost that time of year again, when along with an improvement in the weather, millions of people are welcoming the sniffling, sneezing and itchiness of seasonal allergies.

The number of people who suffer from these airborne allergies, a condition known as allergic rhinitis, has been on the rise in recent decades, especially in European cities, where pollen is sticking around for longer than usual.

Fortunately, for allergy sufferers across the globe, there is hope.

How allergies work

The body creates an allergic response by what's called an allergen — for people with seasonal allergies, that would be pollen from trees, grasses and weeds.

When that pollen makes it into the nose of an allergic person, their immune system mistakes it for a harmful foreign invader and goes into overdrive.

It releases antibodies to attack the allergen, which prompts cells in the person's nose, throat and lungs to release chemicals such as histamine, which is what leads to that sniffling and sneezing, or in more severe cases, asthma attacks.

Traditional therapies

There is no cure for seasonal allergies, so treatments have typically focused on managing the symptoms or avoiding allergens in the first place.

For medicinal treatments, the two usual standbys are antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Allegra, along with steroid nasal sprays like Flonase or Nasacort. There is also a new nasal spray that contains both.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

For those who suffer from allergies, tablets containing small doses of the allergen are dissolved under the tongue either daily or a few times a week for a period before and during allergy season. It's based on the idea that by exposing the immune system to small doses of the allergen, you can make your cells more tolerant to it.

This is a whole new type of desensitization which works in principle the same as allergy shots. But they are easier to take, probably safer, and it's done at home instead of the doctor's office It makes it quite easy for children and people who don't like needles to desensitize themselves.

Some studies also suggest that after about three years of daily treatment, sublingual immunotherapy provides a long-lasting effect for many people, basically reprogramming the body to be more tolerant of the allergen.


Injecting antibodies

Another type of treatment, specifically for people with severe asthma, blocks the communication pathways in an allergic response. A patient would receive a shot of antibodies that target the "communication molecules" that lead to inflammation.

That cost is high and it may be reasonable for people with severe allergies or asthma, but probably doesn't make sense for the casual allergy sufferer.

Potential vaccine

New research is showing some early promise for a potential allergy vaccine. The treatment works by essentially teaching the immune system how to respond to allergens in a normal way.

Unlike other immunotherapies that only work on specific allergens, the molecule would be effective for all of them — so it wouldn't matter if you're allergic to pollen, dust, cats or dogs.

Previous studies also showed that researchers could use the molecule to reprogram the immune systems of mice who were already allergic to pollen, a finding that could eventually pave the way towards finding a cure.

The treatment is still in animal testing phase and has a long way to go before it even reaches human clinical trials.



It’s the start of fall which means ….. flu season is here.


Last year, flu hospitalizations were the highest they’ve ever been; 106 out of every 100,000 people were hospitalized for the flu in the 2017-18 season, with people over age 65 accounting for 58 percent of those hospitalizations and 180 pediatric deaths.

Flu and the common cold can both make you feel crummy, but they are caused by different viruses. Colds are usually milder and do not result in serious health problems associated with the flu, like pneumonia or hospitalizations.

Right now, being prepared is the best thing you can do before the season hits. Here’s what you need to know.

When does flu season start?

Flu season may start as early as October in North America, but generally, it begins sometime in the fall and ends in March. The flu virus, however, can be detected at any point throughout the year, which is important to know if you ever have symptoms, even in the summer. Experts can’t really predict the severity of each flu season, as different strains of the virus can have different impacts on timing and length of the season.

Should I get the flu shot? When?

Yes. With few exceptions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months of age and older to get vaccinated every year. It is the first line of defense in treating the flu. Although people who are moderately or severely ill should wait to recover before getting the shot. Only people with severe, life-threatening allergies to the vaccine or any of its ingredients should avoid the shot. According to the CDC, anyone who is between 2 and 50 years old should get either the shot or the nasal spray. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, says the flu shot is the preferred choice over the nasal spray for children

You can get vaccinated at any time as fall approaches, but October is probably the best time to get it done. The CDC recommends that everyone get vaccinated by the end of October, which gives your body the roughly two-week period it needs to develop an immune response to the vaccine prior to the start of peak flu season. If you miss this deadline, however, the vaccine can still offer some benefit. So it's important to get it as long as people are still getting sick.

What if I’m pregnant?

It is highly recommended that all pregnant women get the flu shot. The body changes during pregnancy — heart rate and oxygen consumption increase while lung capacity decreases. That means if a mother-to-be gets the flu, they are more susceptible to life-threatening complications than the general population. So all women who are or expect to be pregnant should get the flu vaccine.

I heard the flu shot makes you sick. Is that true?

No. The flu vaccine contains an inactivated virus, which means that the virus contained in the vaccine can’t actually infect you. It does take one to two weeks for your immune system to protect you from the flu. So, if someone becomes sick after their shot, it is most likely because their body wasn’t protected from the flu yet, not from the vaccine itself.

Similarly, there are sometimes mismatches between the virus strain someone gets sick with and the strains used to make the vaccine. In these cases, the vaccine might be imperfect at fighting all strains of the flu that might exist, but it's still the best defense we have.

How do I know if I have the flu?

Flu symptoms often come suddenly, and can vary significantly depending on the person. These include fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. While the flu may seem similar to a common cold, colds are usually slower to develop, and less likely to result in fevers.

Some patients with severe infections may have symptoms — like difficulty breathing and confusion — that are cause for concern and might require immediate medical attention to treat them. Medical attention should also be sought for children with the flu who develop bluish skin, aren't waking up or aren't eating. In all cases, if the person's symptoms suddenly worsen after appearing to initially improve, a visit to a clinician is warranted.

I think I have the flu. What do I do next?

In most cases, if symptoms are mild, staying home and leaving only to get medical care is the best course of action. If you must leave the house, wear a face mask, wash your hands, and cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow.

People with severe symptoms, as well as people at high risk from the flu (young children, people 65 and older and pregnant women), should contact their doctors if they develop symptoms. In some cases, people may get antiviral medications, which can lessen symptoms, shorten the time of illness and reduce complications.

How is the shot made?

Manufacturers have many methods of producing flu vaccines. The most common method is the egg-based vaccine, where strains of the virus are injected into eggs and incubated for several days. They are then weakened or killed and afterward purified to be used in a shot or nasal spray.

The next method is through cell-based technology. In these vaccines, the eggs used to incubate the virus are replaced with animal cells. This method is faster in producing vaccines than the older egg-based method.

Another method uses recombinant technology. In these cases, a certain gene is taken from the flu virus, to be inserted into a different non-flu virus which grows in insect cells. This genetically altered non-flu virus then replicates in insect cells. After the virus has been replicated, manufacturers purify the protein produced from the flu gene, which is used in the vaccine. The advantage of this method is that it doesn't use eggs, so people with severe egg allergies can be vaccinated.

What are the side effects of the flu shot?

Most side effects are mild and resolve quickly on their own. Soreness in the area of the shot is pretty common. In addition, people may have headaches, fevers and nausea. Seek immediate symptoms if someone is showing signs of a severe allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, hoarseness or eye and lip swelling.

Where should I get the flu shot?

Get your 2018/2019 flu shot / vaccination here.

Preventing its spread requires good hygiene and high vaccination rates. If you are experiencing any symptoms, avoid contact with other people. If symptoms are starting to get severe, contact our doctor. Working together will be critical in halting flu season.