New Methods for Overcoming Environmental and Food Allergies

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Strategic Alliance Partnership | <b>Allegheny Health Network</b>

Dr. Christine Rauscher details immunotherapy for seasonal allergies, which affect roughly 20 millions adults in the US

When it comes to allergies, the number of affected individuals in the United States alone is staggering. Approximately 20 million adults and 6 million children in the US are affected by seasonal allergies, and roughly 32 million Americans struggle with a myriad of food allergies.

Seasonal allergies have been front-of-mind for many Americans, especially with the Spring season in full effect.

The struggles people with seasonal allergies face have no doubt worsened with the introduction of longer and more severe pollen seasons, as well concerning levels of air pollution recorded across the country that were detailed in the latest State of the Air Report by the American Lung Association.

In this wide-ranging interview for DocTalk, Christine Rauscher, MD, member of the Allegheny Health Network and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Drexel University, offered an overview of some of the most common allergies in the US as well as what could be done to prevent severe allergic reactions among adult and pediatric populations.

As an experienced allergist-immunologist, Rauscher’s insights into environmental, pediatric, and food allergies are incalculable. She is always looking for new methods for combatting allergies, many of which relate to immunotherapy.

“Over in Europe, they tend to prefer doing immunotherapy or allergy desensitization through an earlier age, in general, than what we do in the US,” she said. “In the last few years, in terms of what's been new, there are some FDA approved sublingual tablets for an alternative to allergy shots. I like immunotherapy, whether that's through allergy shots, or through sublingual tablets, because it's actually disease modifying. So, you're not just truly treating the symptoms or preventing through avoidance measures, you're actually kind of changing the underlying disease process.”

Rauscher added that she is a big proponent of prevention methods regarding food allergy as well, especially as they relate to pediatric populations.

Recent research has suggested that introductions to allergic foods at a young age could prevent patients from experiencing severe allergic reactions later in life. While this is a relatively new approach to managing food allergy, Rauscher noted that this an area of research with incredible potential.

I am a big proponent for trying to prevent things. And so I think more food allergy in terms of trying to get patients to, you know, address their food allergy concerns, and, you know, ideally in the very young patients trying to get patients to incorporate some of the allergenic foods earlier rather than later because, you know, I see these patients in their 20s and, you know, it's it really prohibits their quality of life and, you know, leads to, you know, anxiety and More epinephrine use and all these other types of things. So I think it's really interesting to study the younger food allergic patients just because you can help prevent sensitive patients with some early intervention.

“I see these patients in their twenties, and it really prohibits their quality of life and leads to anxiety and more epinephrine use and all these other types of things,” Rauscher said. “So I think it's really interesting to study the younger food allergic patients just because you can help prevent sensitive patients with some early intervention.”