Mary Hudelson MD, Marie Fitzgerald MD, Sherry Barnett MD, Erin Clarke MD, Angelica Ybanez-Bennett PA-C, and JoAnn Dominguez PA-C
The statistics on food allergies are staggering. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), up to 15 million Americans struggle with food allergies, including 5.9 million children. In fact, if you walk into any school classroom in the U.S., statistically two of the students could have a food allergy. The most common offenders are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and crustaceans. And reactions can be quite serious, with 40 percent of children with food allergies experiencing a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that food allergies are getting worse (increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011). That’s why for almost 25 years, the doctors at Family Allergy & Asthma Care (FAAC) in Flower Mound and Denton have been at the forefront of the food allergy battle with treatments such as Oral Food Immunotherapy (OIT) administered through their in-house Food Allergy Institute of North Texas (FAI).
OIT is a process in which an FAAC/FAI caregiver gives the patient a small amount of their allergenic food to decrease their body’s sensitivity to that food. Over the period of six to nine months, the amount of the food is incrementally increased, and their body’s sensitivity is decreased. “Different patients have different goals,” said Dr. Marie Fitzgerald. “Some choose a modified plan to reduce their risk of anaphylaxis should they accidently encounter the food while others continue the therapy until they can eat that specific food freely.”
Food allergies are only a portion of the FAAC/FAI practice. “While seasonal allergy sufferers in most areas of the country worry about spring and summer allergies, in Texas it can be a year-round nuisance,” Dr. Fitzgerald said. “Because we experience a moderate climate in Texas, there’s generally something pollenating 11 months out of the year including Mountain Cedar in the winter.”
That’s why FAAC caregivers remain at the forefront of asthma and allergy diagnosis and treatment with pioneering technology such as Lung Diffusion Capacity Testing (DLCO) technology which measures how well gases (oxygen) move through the lungs and into the bloodstream and Full-Volume Lung Function (FVLF) which measures lung volume, capacity, rates of flow, and gas exchange. “These more sophisticated testing technologies allow us to take better care of our asthmatic patients,” Dr. Fitzgerald said.
FAAC also offers patients an allergy tracker app with reminders of allergy shots and a certified pollen counting station to keep them abreast of daily pollen and spore levels in the area. For more than two decades, FAAC has pioneered these and other tools to make life better for allergy and asthma sufferers, doing whatever it takes to help their patients “breathe in a brand-new way of life free from the burden and limitations of allergies and asthma.”
3051 Churchill Drive, Suite 130
Flower Mound, Texas 75022
2701 West Oak Street, Suite 101
Denton, Texas 76201
By Meredith Knight