Sometimes, your body may react abnormally to a relatively harmless substance because it perceives it as a threat. When this overreaction occurs, one is said to be experiencing an allergy or allergic reaction. Allergy symptoms usually range from mild to severe and life-threatening and may include sneezing, hives, rashes, runny nose, chest tightness, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.
While allergies cannot be cured, they can be effectively managed through allergy testing and allergy immunotherapy. Preferred Urgent Care is happy to offer allergy services to individuals living with allergies in Katy, TX.
An allergy test is a simple, non-invasive procedure that helps doctors determine which substances you’re allergic to. Common allergens include airborne substances such as pollen, dust, animal dander; medications, e.g., penicillin; insect bites and stings; and dairy products, nuts, eggs, fish, etc. Understanding your allergy beforehand helps you prepare your body before the real-life interaction with the allergen occurs.
To perform an allergy skin test, our allergy specialists gently prick your skin using a plastic pricker and then apply the allergen. After approximately 15 minutes, the doctor checks to see which of the allergens have caused a skin reaction, e.g., a rash or welt.
You’ll need one and a half hours to complete one allergy skin testing session. At the end of your testing session, you’ll know what you’re allergic to.
Preferred Urgent Care will provide a list of medications to be discontinued and the timelines for discontinuation when testing is scheduled.
One Day Prior to Testing: For patients with excess inner forearm hair, you will need to shave both inner forearms from below the elbow to above the wrist. Do not shave your arms the morning of the test. This must be done at least 12 hours prior to the testing to allow any skin irritation to subside.
The Day of the Test: Do not drink any caffeinated beverages prior to the test. Shower in the morning, but do not apply any perfumes, colognes, or scented products. Do not smoke or use tobacco products for 4 hours prior to the testing appointment.
After determining what you’re allergic to, our doctor may recommend allergy immunotherapy or allergy shots. Allergy shots contain a minute or small amount of the allergen and work by conditioning the body to react less severely to the allergen.
Allergen immunotherapy works like a vaccine. Your body responds to the inserted amount of a particular allergen, given in gradually increasing doses, thereby developing an immunity or tolerance to the allergen(s). As a result of these immune changes, immunotherapy can lead to decreased, minimal or no allergy symptoms when you are exposed to the allergen(s) included in the allergy vaccine. In general, there are two phases involved in immunotherapy: a build-up phase and a maintenance phase.
Build-up phase: This phase involves receiving increasing amounts of an allergen(s). The frequency of doses during this phase generally ranges from 1 to 7 times a week. A more rapid build-up schedule is sometimes used. The duration of this phase generally ranges from 6 to 12 months.
Maintenance phase: This phase begins when the effective therapeutic dose is reached. The effective maintenance dose is different for each person, depending on their level of allergen sensitivity and their response to the immunotherapy build-up phase. Once the maintenance dose is reached, there will generally be longer periods of time between immunotherapy treatments. The interval between maintenance immunotherapy doses generally range from every 2 to 4 weeks.
The benefits of immunotherapy, in terms of reduced allergy symptoms, can begin during the buildup phase but may take as long as 12 months on the maintenance dose. Improvement with immunotherapy may be progressive throughout the immunotherapy treatment period. Effectiveness of immunotherapy appears to be related to length of treatment and the dose of the allergen.
Some frequently asked questions that we usually hear from our patients include:
Skin testing is a relatively painless procedure. Our doctors use a plastic pricker that doesn’t break your skin or cause bleeding.
You can manage your allergies using medications or allergy shots. However, on their own, allergy medications aren’t nearly as effective as allergy immunotherapy.
Allergy drops are a shots-free alternative to allergy shots. Allergy drops are ideal for patients who are terrified of shots and those with busy schedules. Allergy drops are administered by placing a drop under the tongue.
Avoid taking medications that contain antihistamines at least five days before your test, as these could interfere with your test results.
Testing and treatment are covered by most insurance plans with minimal patient responsibility. In the beginning, there is a $75 deposit required for testing. After determining that a patient qualifies for treatment based on the skin test result, we will attempt to bill your insurance for the testing and the treatment to determine whether your insurance will cover them.
If your insurance covers the test and treatment, you will be refunded the original $75 less any co-pay or co-insurance due per insurance. If your insurance denies the claim, we offer affordable self-pay pricing options. If you opt out of treatment, the only cost will be the original $75 collected.
Allergen immunotherapy is a form of treatment aimed at decreasing your sensitivity to substances called allergens. These allergens are identified by allergy testing; these are the substances that trigger your allergy symptoms when you are exposed to them. Allergen immunotherapy involves taking increasing amounts of an allergen over several months to years. Immunotherapy has been shown to prevent the development of new allergies and, in children, it can prevent the progression of the allergic disease from allergic rhinitis to asthma. Allergen immunotherapy can lead to the long-lasting relief of allergy symptoms after treatment is stopped.
Insurance coverage for allergen immunotherapy vary widely from one insurance carrier to another. As a result, we are unable to provide a specific cost for the treatment. However, based on our experience, we have found that most insurance carriers cover the testing and the treatment, assuming patients have met their annual deductible. You may have to pay a co-pay which in many instances is usually a nominal fee. You are responsible for your co-pay or any portion of your unmet deductible. Our clinic will file the claim for the allergy testing and the immunotherapy with the insurance company and wait for their response, which usually takes approximately 4-8 weeks. The good news is we do NOT order your immunotherapy treatment until we’ve received a response from your insurance on the claim.
If your claim is denied, our clinic will not order the treatment. As such, the patient does NOT owe anything for the immunotherapy except the $180 for the allergy testing performed at the time of your visit. We will notify you if your claim is denied and offer you a self-pay price. If you decline the self-price, there will be NO further financial responsibility on your end for the immunotherapy.
If your claim is approved by your insurance, our clinic will proceed with ordering your immunotherapy. Once we receive the treatment in our clinic, one of our staffs will call you to schedule your immunotherapy training session. Charges for your treatment may not directly correspond with the date of your office visit. You may receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your insurance for the actual Immunotherapy, this may or may not correspond with the date of your actual office visit.