Alphington Medical Centre believes that allergy testing and treatment should be affordable and easily accessible. We can help you to identify the cause, relieve the symptoms and manage the problems without long waiting list, no referral required and immediate results!
Are you suffering from?
- Itchy skin, nose or eyes
- Sneezing, sinuses congestion, headache
- Wheezing, snoring
- Itchy rashes, dermatitis, swelling
- Unexplained tiredness
- Energy depletion,
- Brain fog
Allergies can be the cause of all those symptoms. The most important step in allergy management is correctly identifying the cause.
Allergy tests help to identify or confirm what allergens are causing allergy and/or asthma symptoms. Skin prick tests are the best way to test for an allergy to common items. Skin prick test results together with your specific history of symptoms help the doctor determine the best course of management for you.
Skin prick testing is usually done on the forearm, and is quick and painless. Skin prick testing is supervised by a doctor who is trained to interpret results and treat an allergic reaction if it occurs. A small itchy lump (wheal) and red flare will appear within 15 minutes for a positive allergy test.
What is Hayfever (Allergic Rhinitis)?
Allergic rhinitis or “hay fever” is a common condition. It often commences in teenage years and is associated with an itchy nose, a runny nose and sneezing. Allergic rhinitis can also cause a blocked nose that can cause trouble sleeping or lead to snoring. The eyes are also often affected, being itchy, irritated and tired. Whilst it is not a dangerous condition, by affecting the eyes and sleep, rhinitis can have a significant impact on quality of life. Allergic rhinitis often occurs with asthma. Allergic Rhinitis can occur in response to many antigens and it is important to distinguish between allergies that occur in the spring or summer season and those that occur all year round. Common allergic triggers are house dust mite, grass pollens and pets such as cat dander.
When assessing rhinitis it is important to decide whether the rhinitis is due to an underlying allergy. If this is the case then it is possible to treat the rhinitis by:
- Avoiding the allergic trigger if possible
- Using medication such as intra-nasal corticosteroid medication, or other medications.
- Undertaking immunotherapy or desensitisation to the major allergic trigger.
However not all rhinitis is allergic in nature so that often it is not possible to determine an allergic trigger. In such cases medications will likely be the mainstay of treatment. Some of these patients may also benefit from nasal surgery. The purpose of seeing an Allergy specialist is to work out if allergen-specific treatments are likely to be effective.
What role does allergy play in Asthma?
If you have asthma that is triggered by allergens, you may have asthma symptoms when you vacuum or dust, as this causes house dust mite allergens to become airborne, or are outdoors in late spring and early summer, and when there are high levels of pollen in the air.
However, unlike other asthma triggers such as colds and flu, it might be possible to avoid or reduce your exposure to some allergen triggers of your asthma. It will then be possible for your doctor to:
- advise how to reduce or avoid exposure to your allergies
- prescribe appropriate medicine
- determine if immunotherapy is suitable.
Over 2 million Australians have asthma, that is about 1 in 10 people. Of these, about 80% have allergies like hayfever.
Allergen Immunotherapy / Desensitisation
Allergen immunotherapy (also known as desensitisation) is an ideal option for patients suffering from allergy induced asthma, or severe hay fever symptoms. It involves the repeated monthly administration of allergen vaccines over a period of 3 to 5 years. The aim of immunotherapy is for the patient to have a significant reduction in symptoms for many years after the completion of the course. Allergen immunotherapy is also recommended for patients with rhinitis and asthma due to aero-allergens such as dust mite and grass pollens, and also known to be beneficial for patients who suffer severe atopic dermatitis.
We provide allergen immunotherapy for dust mite, grass pollens, cat and dog allergies.
Allergen immunotherapy reduces the severity of allergy symptoms and the need for medications. It involves regular administration of very small doses of allergen extracts, usually over a period of 3-5 years.
How is Immunotherapy given?
Immunotherapy can be given by injection (subcutaneous immunotherapy) using a very fine needle. These injections for immunotherapy are usually given every month.
How effective is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is the closest thing we have to a cure for allergies. Whilst it usually doesn’t make symptoms go away completely, it usually reduces symptoms substantially, often by about two-thirds. When used for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) it does provide additional benefit over antihistamines and corticosteroid nose sprays. The benefits of a full course of immunotherapy should last for 5 to 8 years.
Immunotherapy will not cure asthma, but it will likely help asthma. There is good evidence that sublingual immunotherapy can reduce asthma exacerbations and may enable a reduction in preventer medications.
Who should consider immunotherapy?
In the case of respiratory allergies such as hay-fever there are a few reasons to consider immunotherapy:
- Anyone with significant allergic nose or eye symptoms to an inhaled substance that is not well controlled with medication
- Where the medications required are burdensome or not tolerated
- Where the person chooses to undertake immunotherapy for management of their disease.
What are the side-effects of immunotherapy?
In subcutaneous immunotherapy (by injection) about 25% of people will develop a red lump at the site of injection which nearly always goes away after a couple of hours.
More serious allergic reactions can occur which involve a general allergic reaction such as hives. asthma or even anaphylaxis. These severe reactions occur in about 1:100,000 injections. Because of this risk it is critical that all injections are given at a doctor’s surgery and the person receiving the immunotherapy injection waits in the doctor’s room for 15 minutes after each allergy injection. Injections should not be given to people with unstable asthma, so let your doctor know if you are not well and best practice is to check the peak flow before each injection and make sure it is close to your best. Usually however, injections are safe and well-tolerated and part of a allergy consultation is deciding who is able to receive this treatment safely.
Whilst immunotherapy is not recommended in pregnant women, no evidence of harm due to immunotherapy has been described. Our practice is to cease immunotherapy if you become pregnant.
How much does it cost?
Immunotherapy injections are not covered on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. So this means patients must meet the whole cost of treatment. Injection immunotherapy has a cost of approximately $350 per vial, which lasts about six months. Some private insurance extras schemes reimburse some of these costs. When you consider the cost of antihistamines and other medications, plus time off work the cost becomes very reasonable.