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Allergy clinic "breaks out" with new doctor

By Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

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According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of allergic diseases has been increasing for more than 50 years in the industrialized world, to include America.

Luckily for patients at U.S. Air Force Hospital Langley, Va., the allergy clinic staff provides the necessary care to ensure patients can cope with or even move past their allergies.

To meet the ever-increasing demand for relief, the hospital acquired an allergist last December. By doing so, allergy clinic staff members hope to provide care to more people, said Senior Airman Catherine Settles, 633rd Medical Group aerospace medical technician.

"Now that we have an allergist, we can see more patients," said Settles. "Patients with complex allergy issues can be seen here instead of at other hospitals."

Having an allergist on hand gives the clinic the ability to diagnose patients on-site, which expedites treatment.

"Before December, we saw roughly 20 to 30 patients a week," said Settles. "With the addition of an allergist this year, we see approximately 40 to 50 patients, and we hope to see more."

The influx of patients comes from within the hospital since primary care managers refer them to the allergy clinic after an initial diagnosis.

Once they reach the clinic, Air Force Lt. Col. Teresa Nesselroad, 633rd MDG allergist, performs further diagnoses and determines the cause of discomfort.

"We get a full history of the patient to find a potential trigger," said Nesselroad. "Afterwards, we test a wide range of allergens until we see a reaction."

The staff conducts skin patch, skin prick and oral challenge tests using airborne, venom or food allergens. Technicians record the reactions, then Nesselroad consults the patient and provides advice and treatment measures to ensure the patient can cope with their allergies.

To be seen by allergy clinic personnel, Nesselroad advises potential patients to visit their PCM first before trying to schedule an appointment with the clinic.

Nesselroad and Settles both expressed a sense of accomplishment in finding the source of discomfort for their patients. If you feel you might be suffering from allergies, rest assured the allergy clinic staff will do their best to keep you breathing easy all year long.