At AAPRI, our dedicated team of healthcare professionals is here to provide you with personalized care to help you live a healthier life. “Taking time to establish a trusting relationship with the patient is an important part of successful allergy treatment,” says Nadine Pope, AAPRI’s Clinical Supervisor. In this staff spotlight, you’ll hear more from Nadine about what she does to support patients on their allergy treatment journey.
Q: What is your role at AAPRI as the Clinical Supervisor?
NP: My primary role is to oversee all of the testing that we do here, and I take care of a lot of things that go on behind the scenes. After a patient is seen by Dr. Z or one of our other providers, if they need testing, particularly if it’s one of the challenges for food or medication allergies, they come to see me. So, let’s say the provider suspects the patient may be allergic to peanuts… They are then referred to me to do a peanut challenge test.
Q: What’s involved with a challenge test for a food allergy?
NP: A challenge is basically a test where we give the patient a small, measured dose of the food, medication, or venom as in the case of bee stings that we’re testing for. It’s measured out based on the protein of the food. The patient ingests that small amount and then we wait 15 minutes. We then give them another dose and wait 15 minutes. After each dosing I monitor them to make sure they’re not having any reactions and to see how much of the food they can tolerate. Challenge testing usually takes about 3 hours and is done here in the office. Depending on how the challenge goes, the patient may be able to reintroduce that food into their diet at a certain dosage.
Q: Do you do other kinds of testing?
NP: Yes, I perform all of the various kinds of testing we do here at AAPRI: skin testing, patch testing, methacholine challenges, etc. We have other practitioners who administer some of these tests, but I am the only staff member who is licensed to do the challenges because I am also trained as a Cardiac EMT and have the required license to perform those tests.
Q: Do you provide allergy immunotherapy as well?
NP: Yes, I manage the administration of allergy shots here at AAPRI. We do two different kinds of immunotherapy here—the allergy shots and the allergy drops, or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). They both work by desensitizing you to environmental allergens, and they both are done over the course of 3 to 5 years. Allergy shots are given in office, which involves getting the shot and then waiting for half an hour to see if there is a reaction. For the first 6 months, the patient comes in weekly to get their allergy injection. After that initial period, they start to spread out their treatment and come in every other week, and then once a month.
The allergy drops are an in-home treatment. Dr. Z prescribes the allergy drops and I prepare the formula here in the office. The patient then takes the drops at home, one drop under the tongue 3 times a day. Over the course of treatment, the amount of allergen is gradually increased until a maintenance level is reached. The benefit of allergy drops is that you can do it at home so it’s convenient, and you don’t have injective site soreness or other potential side effects of getting a shot. But the treatment is considered off-label by the FDA so it is not approved or covered by insurance. Allergy shots are covered by insurance, but there may be a co-pay depending on the patient’s plan.
Q: How effective is immunotherapy in treating allergies?
NP: I’ve seen patients who have gotten a lot of benefit from both types of immunotherapy. It takes a serious commitment to stick with it for the 3 to 5 years that is required, but I have seen many patients who have been completely cured of their allergies, or at the very least, they have much less severe reactions. It helps people get a bit more normalcy into their lives, which is one of the things I enjoy most about my job—being able to help patients improve their quality of life.
Get started on your journey to better health today. Contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated team members at one of our three office locations.