Don’t sneeze at today’s sophisticated allergy treatments

Dr. Michael Wein [Photo: Denise Ritchie]

When was looking for expert advice for a February 2019 article on the early treatment of eczema – the scratchy, itchy allergic skin condition that affects some 8 million adults and another 9.6 million children – it called on Dr. Michael Wein at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital.

When the Wall Street Journal needed skilled insight into the use of steroid inhalers by asthma patients for a June 2019 story, it too sought Wein’s expertise.

Back in early 2015, Wein confuted long-held myths about “expired” Epinephrine pens, along with then-existing state and federal regulations barring first responders from using Epinephrine injectors that were past their supposed “use by” date in treating people experiencing severe anaphylactic shock.

Wein’s study, published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, showed that even a full two years after the expiration date, those injectors still contained more than 90 percent of their original epinephrine dose and that level met or exceeded the current U.S. Pharmacopeia standards for new, fresh-out-of-the-box injectors.

In other words, no one had to die from anaphylactic shock if their EpiPen was a few weeks past its expiration date.

So, if you or someone in your family is experiencing any kind of allergy symptom – from an itchy throat to a runny nose to watering eyes or worse – a visit to Wein’s 20th Street office might be just what the doctor ordered.

You might even be pleasantly surprised at what you learn.

For example, according to Wein, today almost all of the most common and unpleasant allergies – and their symptoms – can now be blocked or “turned off.”

That includes allergic reactions to trees, pollen, grasses and ragweed, dogs and cats, dust and mold as well as shampoos, hair-care products, milk-based foods and, yes, even peanut allergies.

These are not your father’s – or grandfather’s – allergy treatments like the antihistamines in Benadryl, Claritin or Allegra.

“Most people,” Wein explains, “have tried over-the-counter medications and even though there are thousands and thousands of medicines for allergy, they really only have two or three different types of ingredients. Most of them are antihistamines. There are different labels [on over-the-counter products], but people don’t realize they’re taking the same thing.”

Doctors, on the other hand, have access to a wide range of medications “that can alter or modulate the immune system,” says Wein, who is Chief of Allergy at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital and serves on the faculty at Florida State University College of Medicine.

“We have medications that affect interleukin-5, interleukin-4, interleukin-13. We have medicines that affect IgE. We have monoclonal antibodies against IgE. We have phosphodiesterase inhibitors. We have medicines that block leukotrienes.”

Wein then pauses. Knowing the average layperson doesn’t have a clue about the differences between interleukins, monoclonal antibodies and phosphodiesterase inhibitors, he simply re-states that today, the body’s allergic responses can now effectively be switched off.

Wein is one of the relatively few practitioners in this field who is board-certified in both pediatric and adult allergy care, and his office treats “all different types of ages and all different types of diseases” and gets referrals from infectious disease specialists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists and dermatologists.

“I might have one person in a room who is 6 months old who has a peanut allergy,” Wein says, “and next door there’s a 90-year-old who has an allergic reaction to laundry detergent.”

If that doesn’t sound like a busy enough work schedule, Wein – who completed his undergraduate work at Brown University, his internal medicine residency at Vanderbilt and his post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins – is also on the faculty of the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Today Wein is exploring yet another new approach to treating allergies based on the immunotherapy work of the 2018 Nobel Prize-winning Dr. James Allison.

“We can actually cure a disease and stop someone from being allergic,” he says, “temporarily or permanently. We can turn off [parts of] the immune system, so you’re no longer allergic to things like venom from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, white faced hornets, fire ants,” and a host of other allergens.

Today’s allergists, he says, are breaking new ground and putting the old-fashioned allergy medicines to shame with innovative new treatments that are bringing permanent relief to millions of allergy sufferers.

Dr. Michael Wein is the Chief of Allergy at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. He has offices at 3375 20th Street, Suite 140 in Vero Beach where the phone number is 772-299-7299 and at 320-322 NW Bethany Drive in Port St. Lucie where the phone number is 772-621-9992.

Comments are closed.