“Ambrosia: The sneeze generator of the gods.” This is not a timeworn quote from a famous person; it was recently said to me by a friend of mine, Scott Gunn, a field botanist who suggested this as a topic for this column. In case some of you reading this are not allergists, ambrosia is the scientific name for ragweed. Ambrosia is also the mythological food of the gods. So what was my friend trying to say to me?
Over the past months most of us have dedicated a great amount of time navigating the COVID pandemic, and focusing less on why we became allergists, namely to help those suffering from allergic and immunologic diseases. I am truly thankful for the efforts of the College staff and member allergists who have helped guide us thorough these perilous times. Hopefully the College’s resources have played a role in helping keep your practice afloat.
However, if we are going to thrive, we need to focus on what has helped make the field of allergy special and distinct: immunotherapy. Botanical fall season has begun with barely a mention or thought of it being the beginning of ragweed season. It was economically difficult for many of us when our offices were empty last spring, not only for the lost revenue, but also for the missed opportunity to help allergy sufferers who need what we do best: allergy desensitization.
Patients are beginning to return to our offices. Treatment of their ragweed allergy is vital. Nontreatment can lead to worsening of patients’ health and may increase the risk of asthma exacerbations. Patients are going to need our help even more this fall, as it can be difficult to distinguish symptoms of allergy from COVID. Both conditions can have runny nose, nasal congestion, and sore throat. We have been hearing about patients not getting care for serious medical conditions and putting off routine visits because of COVID. We need to communicate to our patients and our community that we, as allergists, have taken steps to protect them when they come for our care. In my practice, I have been reassuring them about the measures I am taking to keep my lobby a safe place reserved for immunotherapy patients only. Other patients wait in the car until an exam room is available. Patients who need immunotherapy should feel comfortable in your office to receive this important treatment. Very few medicines get to the root of the problem and change someone permanently the way immunotherapy can. Make sure you take all the important precautions to reduce the risk of COVID in your office so you can offer all allergy services, including immunotherapy, to your patients.
So, join me in celebrating the season for ambrosia, the sneeze generator of the gods. It is our hope that you remain safe, well and prosperous. The College will remain vigilant as your trusted partner. Until next time…
J. Allen Meadows, MD, FACAAI