Allergy Overview

An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to something that your body is exposed to.  You can be allergic to tiny particles in the air (pollen, pet dander, mold, dust).  You can also be allergic to foods, chemicals, medications or venoms (wasp, bee, hornet, etc.)  

Allergy can cause a variety of ear nose and throat conditions, such as sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, ear infections, throat complaints, coughing and nasal polyps, to name a few. 

At West Michigan ENT & Allergy, allergies can be diagnosed and treated, whether allergies are your primary concern, or whether allergies are contributing to other ear nose and throat issues.

We offer skin testing, blood testing, subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots), and sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops).

Allergy testing

We use the Multi-Test (R) ii device for most of our allergy testing at West Michigan ENT & Allergy.  Adults and most children are tested on the forearm.  For younger children, the back can also be used.  There are fine plastic points on the tip of each prong.  These feel slightly sharp, but do not feel as sharp as a needle stick.  After 15 minutes, we are able to precisely measure the skin reaction that takes place.

Intradermal testing involves injections in to the skin.  This is similar to a skin test for tuberculosis, where a small "wheal" is made in the skin. This is typically not painful or only slightly sharp. Intradermal testing is helpful to determine more precisely how severe a patient's allergy is.  Intradermal testing is also more sensitive to test for dust and mold allergy.

Allergy Shots

Medically referred to as: subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT).  Allergy shots have been used to treat allergy for many decades, and there is strong research evidence to support their effectiveness at decreasing allergy symptoms and decreasing the need to take allergy medications.

An injection is given just beneath the skin, usually weekly.  Treatment lasts 3 to 5 years.  Treatment is started at a low dose.  The dose is increased each week.  Usually you reach the largest dose (maintenance dose) after 9-12 months.  Maintenance injections are continued to 2 to 4 years. 

Allergy shots are covered by most health insurance plans.  There may be some patient expense regarding copays, deductibles, coinsurance, etc.  Our office staff is able to help you check with your insurance plan to know exactly what your coverage is if you are interested in allergy shots.

Allergy Drops

Medically referred to as: sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).  The same allergy serums that are used for allergy shots can be applied under the tongue.  This is done on a daily basis (every day).  Studies have shown that allergy drops are effective at treating allergies, with similar results compared to allergy shots with regards to effectiveness at decreasing allergy symptoms and medication use.

Allergy drops are done at home.  The convenience of not having to drive to our office to receive a shot is a big plus for many patients.  We only recommend this treatment if you are able to remember to take your medications on a daily basis, however.  

Allergy drops are a newer form of treatment, and unfortunately, as of right now (June 2017), insurance companies generally do not cover the cost of allergy drops.  We understand how burdensome medical expenses can be on our patients' budgets.  The allergy serums used in allergy drops are quite expensive, and the training for mixing and handling allergy drops is also expensive.  We have made efforts to reduce the price of our allergy drops as much as possible in order to make this helpful treatment available to as many people as possible.