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Chattanooga Allergy Clinic bracing for heavy season

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Todd Levin, MD; Linda Melton, FNP; Hyman Kaplan, MD; Honor Hightshue, FNP; Lee Perry, MD; Brittany Hamby, FNP; Marc Cromie, MD, are ready to help allergy sufferers.
Todd Levin, MD; Linda Melton, FNP; Hyman Kaplan, MD; Honor Hightshue, FNP; Lee Perry, MD; Brittany Hamby, FNP; Marc Cromie, MD, are ready to help allergy sufferers.

Allergist Todd Levin says dry summer weather won’t keep outdoor mold allergies at bay over the next few months. This summer, combating dry-season Alternaria allergens will be a big part of Chattanooga Allergy Clinic’s operation.

“It’s basically a dry-weather mold,” Levin explained. “That’s been big the last several years since our summers have been so dry. We’re going to have mold whether it’s dry or wet.”

Fescue and Bermuda grass pollen are in season into July as well, and those telltale symptoms of itchy eyes, a runny nose and congestion can trigger asthma, especially at night.

“It gets worse when people mow the lawn and kick that pollen up,” Levin said.

He said hot summer weather also aggravates air pollution, which, in turn, can cause asthma attacks, too. CAC’s website has a link to the Air Pollution Control Bureau and its daily air quality report.

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    Dr. Todd Levin, with Chattanooga Allergy Clinic, helps patients breathe easier.

Summer camp season brings the much-feared anaphylaxis: scary reactions to bees and other insects. On top of that, it’s fire ant season in Chattanooga.

“This is that time of year,” Levin said. “People are having picnics, they’re outside, there’s food.”

He said a bad reaction after a sting — like hives, lip swelling or tongue swelling — means it’ll be worse next time, so it’s important to prepare.

CAC’s venom immunotherapy shots improve the patient’s immunity and tolerance to insect stings and bites, but Levin urges tests at CAC to identify the right culprit, whether wasp, honey bee or hornet.

“Sometimes it’s hard to tell,” he said. “A lot of these guys look alike."

Venom immunotherapy shots can cut the risk for allergic reaction by 97 percent,

he said. Since some reactions are life-threatening, “venom shots are lifesaving,” said Levin.

“It can be very comforting, it gives you protection,” he said.

Other allergy shot treatments can be shortened, too, and summer is a popular time to do it. What used to take six months takes as little as four weeks with CAC’s rush immunotherapy system.

“It basically just speeds up the process,” Levin said.

CAC is all about speeding up every process and making it easy for patients with weird schedules to get their weekly shots and go on to lead normal, healthy lives, according to him.

New extended office hours allow patients to come in at the Lee Highway location Tuesdays until 7:30 p.m. or early Wednesdays at 7 a.m. The Hixson office also opens Wednesdays at 7 a.m.

CAC opened its fifth location at Erlanger at Volkswagen Drive in January, and Levin said it continues to serve the growing Ooltewah community.

“We have a lot of patients that just find it convenient,” he said. “They don’t have to drive miles and miles. They just get in and out.”

Exercise-induced asthma testing is becoming that location’s blossoming specialty, though the tests can be done at any CAC location. Levin said usually asthma is caused by allergies, which can be controlled, so weekend warriors and full-fledged athletes alike can be treated and perform their best. In fact, he said, 15 to 20 percent of Olympic athletes have asthma.

Levin’s own asthma and allergies led him to become an allergist. He said he endured years of wheezing and coughing that caused him trouble when running hard and even when just going to class in college before he was finally diagnosed.

“They put me on medication that changed my life,” he said. “I was able to go to class. I was able to do whatever I wanted.”

Levin said he wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives and joined CAC six years ago, returning to Chattanooga after pediatric training at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital and a two-year fellowship in Augusta, Ga.

“It’s always so rewarding when we see people for the second time and they look so much better,” he said. “The patients just have a glow and it’s so rewarding.”

MORE INFORMATION

Chattanooga Allergy Clinic has offices in Cleveland, Fort Oglethorpe, Hixson, on Lee Highway and Volkswagen Drive. For more information about any office, visit www.chattanoogaallergyclinic.com or call 423-899-0431.

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