I-Team Investigation: The End of Allergies

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WICHITA, Kan. -- It’s usually nice to hear your city is at the top of a list. But when Wichita became the allergy capital of America last fall, most of us cringed.

But there may be relief: a new immunization therapy that you can do at home promises to get rid of the sneezing and itching.

When the pollen flies and the ragweed blows, the sneezing starts; the watery, itchy eyes and the misery begins.

Millions of Kansans suffer from seasonal allergies, with Wichita usually ranking in the top five for worst cities to live in if you suffer from allergies. Last fall, the Air Capital ranked as the allergy capital of the country.

“As soon as spring time comes, I get sneezy, itchy throat, always feel like I have to swallow,” said Kathy Ford, who suffers allergies.

Kathy knows that feeling all too well. She is hoping to find relief this spring through immuno-therapy.

“Most of the results are great, with quality of life and feeling better,” said Dr. Sitha Miller of Kansas Medical Associates.

Allergy shots are nothing new. They’re usually given at a doctor’s office, but this treatment requires patients to give themselves injections at home every other day for just one year.

“I have to admit it's a commitment,” Kathy said. “And I do mine every other day and I have to be disciplined.”

A specialist mixes the serum, filled with a tiny bit of the things Kathy is allergic to: pollen, cats, and dogs. Over time, the allergen dose is gradually increased with each shot.

By injecting the allergen into your system, doctors say your body becomes immune. The goal is for Kathy to never have to take over-the-counter or prescription allergy medicine again, saving her hundreds of dollars a year.

“It will be nice, an extra expense you don't need,” Kathy said. “I don't like to take medication.”

While most of us would cringe at the thought of giving a shot to ourselves, it's not that hard, especially with a little practice.

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