The promise of spring in Iowa is what helps us all make it through the long, cold winter. Just the sight of sunny skies, blooming flowers, and budding trees makes us want to throw open the windows and head outside.
If you have springtime allergies, though, you probably don’t enjoy the season as much as you could. If you’re tired of allergy symptoms keeping you indoors (and still pretty miserable) on beautiful days, Iowa ENT Center in West Des Moines can help. Our advanced allergy treatments can help to minimize or even eliminate allergy symptoms.
What causes seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, are caused by an immune system response to airborne allergens, such as pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. In spring, pollen levels are at their highest, and many people experience an allergic reaction as their immune systems mistakenly identify pollen as a harmful invader. This triggers the release of histamines and other chemicals, causing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with spring allergies.
Start with allergy testing
Before we recommend a treatment option for your allergies, we’ll conduct an allergy test to determine what you’re allergic to—and to what extent. This simple, painless test is done in our West Des Moines office by a member of our experienced allergy team.
During the test, our allergy specialist will:
- Clean a small area of your skin (usually on your forearm or back)
- Dip a series of connected plastic prongs into different liquids; each liquid contains a different kind of allergen (plants, trees, dust, household pets, etc.)
- Gently press the plastic prongs onto the cleaned area of your skin
- Wait about 15 minutes
- Look for (and measure) signs of an allergic reaction to each allergen (such as redness, swelling, or itching)
Once the test is finished, we’ll review your results with you so you know exactly what triggers your allergies. You may only be allergic to a few things—or many. We’ll also print your results so you can take them with you.
Next, you’ll meet with your Iowa ENT Center physician (usually at the same appointment). They’ll discuss your results with you and explain your treatment options, which may include immunotherapy.
How does immunotherapy work for allergies?
Immunotherapy involves slowly increasing your exposure to an allergen(s) over a period of time, usually several months. Eventually, your immune system becomes desensitized to the allergen(s), reducing the frequency and severity of your allergic reaction.
We do this by custom-formulating a medication just for you—based on the allergens identified in your allergy testing. This medication can be given through shots or through drops under your tongue (sublingual). You’ll take the medication once a week for the first three weeks and then three times a week after that.
The duration of the therapy differs for every individual (ranging from a few months to a few years). But the success rate of immunotherapy is very high: up to 85% of immunotherapy patients reported that their allergy symptoms were either eliminated or significantly reduced.
Immunotherapy isn’t only for adults, by the way. It’s also available for children age two and older. Learn about one family’s experience with immunotherapy.
Is immunotherapy covered by insurance?
Many insurance plans cover allergy treatments. Immunotherapy given by injection (shots) is covered by most insurance plans, while immunotherapy with drops (sublingual) generally isn’t covered by insurance. As always, check with your insurance provider before you start treatment to determine the extent of your coverage and any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur.
Life is too short to be miserable
Don’t let spring allergies control your life. At Iowa ENT Center, our team of experienced specialists can help you overcome your springtime allergies and improve your quality of life.
We don't require a referral to see one of our physicians. Just contact us schedule an appointment by calling 515-223-4368 or requesting an appointment online. And begin your journey toward an allergy-free life.