Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Controlling Allergies: Allergy Doctor Shares Advice

Dr. John Antalis: Controlling Allergies: Allergy Doctor Shares Advice

Controlling Allergies: An Allergy Doctor Shares His Advice

Living as I do in Dalton, Georgia, I can attest to the fact that Dalton is more than just the carpet capital of the world – it’s also one of the most allergy-prone areas in the country. According to Dr. John Antalis, a board-certified family practice physician in Dalton who specializes in the treatment of patients with allergies, Dalton is located in the geographic equivalent of a bowl. Nestled in a valley between two mountain ranges, allergens like Ragweed and mold spores settle in and stay. “Most adults suffer as much or more from mold as they do from pollen,” Dr. Antalis says.

Like so many other local residents who have been transplanted here from other parts of the country, I never suffered from allergies until I moved to North Georgia. Now, every spring, when my normally beige car turns a vibrant chartreuse under a thick layer of the infamous Georgia green pollen, I break out the drugs, the sprays, and my Neti Pot. What I have learned from Dr. Antalis is that defending myself from my allergy symptoms is more about the way I use these products than the products themselves.

Allergens: You can’t keep them out, so you better just wash them out!

For those of us, especially in the Southern U.S., who battle allergy symptoms just about all year ‘round, Dr. Antalis has devised a regimen he calls his Sinus Maintenance and Prevention Program. Lucky for us, he has agreed to talk about it for the CRI Blog.

Like most brilliant ideas, Dr. Antalis’s program is based on a simple set of assertions: One, that we live in a world where allergens are all around us; two, that it is fruitless to try to eliminate allergens completely from our indoor environments, and impossible to avoid them outdoors, and three, that the greatest benefit to allergy sufferers lies in regularly ridding allergens from the place where they wreak the most havoc - the insides of our noses.

What Dr. Antalis tells his patients is that, in order to control their symptoms, they need to keep their noses clean. By that, he doesn’t just mean they should be well-behaved – he means frequent nasal irrigations. Yes, he literally recommends his patients wash the allergens out of their nostrils four times each day, using either an over-the-counter saline spray or another over-the-counter nasal wash product called Alkalol.  This routine of nasal douching is to occur in addition to patients’ prescribed therapy with drugs such as Allegra, Clarinex, Claritin or Zyrtec, plus nasal steroid sprays such as Nasonex or Rhinocort, or antihistamine sprays such as Astelin, Astepro, or Patanase.

CRI: How does this work?
Dr. A.: Most of the particles we breathe in attach to cilia in our noses. I tell my patients to give themselves one shot of a saline spray in each nostril, then blow it out. It only needs to go about halfway up their nostril – to about the level where their glasses sit. Four times each day. The key is the consistency in technique, not necessarily the individual products. If you do the technique properly, any product works more or less the same.

Dr. Antalis' Sinus Maintenance and Prevention Program
Here is a copy of Dr. Antalis’ patient handout, which outlines his personalized mucus-busting plan for each patient.

The basic plan is this:

1. Every morning: medication and nasal spray as prescribed

2. Wash nose with saline or Alkalol four times per day, at:

Breakfast
Lunch
Supper
Bedtime

3. Last thing before bed: prescribed nasal sprays

CRI: How can patients get into the routine of this?
Dr. A.: I tell them to cue it roughly to when they wash their hands before each meal.

According to Dr. Antalis, it takes approximately 6-8 hours for allergen loads of pollen, mold, dust or chemicals, to trigger nasal irritation. So the regular, brief rinses throughout the day keep particulate levels at bay. Another benefit of his simple, low-tech system is that it saves patients money, both in that it uses less-expensive, over-the-counter products, and also because it can help to prevent the development of more serious illnesses that require a doctor’s office visit. One caveat: Dr. Antalis says patients who spend most of their time outdoors may need additional treatments during the day, but, since the saline solution carries no negative side-effects, there is not a potential for overuse.

Finally, Dr. Antalis stresses that dealing with allergies is a lifetime proposition. “If you have them, you need to stay on top of them. If you wait to start the regimen when you first develop symptoms, it will be too late.Find a balance,’ I tell my patients. “You must try your best to be consistent.’ With this system, you’re not going to be perfect, but you will likely have more control of your sinuses than you would have otherwise.”

This being the Carpet and Rug Institute blog, I can’t miss an opportunity to talk about carpet and allergies.

Obviously, it’s important for anyone living with allergies to keep his or her home as clean and allergen-free as possible, and the good news is we don’t have to live without the comfort and warmth of carpet in our homes in order to take care of ourselves. This blog has several in-depth articles discussing the scientific evidence that shows that clean, dry carpet does not contribute to increased allergy symptoms, but the long and the short of the story is that frequent vacuuming with an effective vacuum such as those certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval testing and certification program, and periodic deep cleaning with an SOA-approved system or from an SOA-certified Service Provider will control allergens in your carpet.

Here are links to blog post related to carpet and allergy:

Many thanks to Dr. Antalis for the caring and service he offers to allergy sufferers in Dalton. And now, anyone anywhere who reads this article can benefit from his Sinus Maintenance and Prevention Program. Here’s to a world of un-stuffy noses! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? It may not be world peace, but it’s nothing to sneeze at, either.

~Bethany

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Congratulations, Dr. Antalis, on being named to Georgia's Composite Medical Board by Georgia's newly-elected Governor Nathan Deal.
Bethany

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