Did you know that along with being doused in yellow pollen, Charlotte medical records show we have one of the highest numbers of food allergy diagnosis codes in the South? What does that mean, you ask? Well, it means that we Charlotteans are allergic to not only everything around us, but also to many foods we eat. When you add in people with food allergies to the extremely high population of environmental allergy sufferers in our perpetually warm and verdant city, it’s no wonder that Dr. Nikhila Schroeder and her husband James chose the Queen City to open their allergy clinic, Allergenuity Health.
In January 2018, Nikhila and James moved to Charlotte from La Crosse, WI, where Dr. Schroeder was working in an allergy clinic and James was working in digital marketing. Dr. Schroeder’s clinic at the time was one of the few using sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT, also known as allergy drops) and was the only one to use it as their sole immunotherapy option. “She saw so much success with SLIT in practice and was surprised more allergy clinics weren’t using it to help provide allergy care,” James remembers. “We had many conversations about starting our own clinic, improving upon the model she was currently using.” Their experience and research led them to Charlotte where, with James’ business acumen and Dr. Schroeder’s expertise, they believed they could build a successful practice.
Allergenuity Health began seeing patients in July 2018, offering personalized SLIT treatment options, allergy testing (both food and environmental), asthma testing, and thorough consultations. The SLIT they provide and their unique approach have made them in demand not only in Charlotte, but across the US (they currently see patients from 24 states and Canada).
“SLIT is an overall safe process by which you attempt to retrain your immune system to become more tolerant of your allergens by placing a specially formulated drop of your allergens under your tongue,” James explains. “There are two forms of SLIT available: off-label multi-allergen SLIT using liquid drops (for foods or environmental allergens), and FDA approved single-allergen tablets for a few environmental allergens.”
There are many benefits to using SLIT drops over the tablets, allergy shots, or oral immunotherapy (OIT, for food allergies). Along with flexibility in dosing and the number of allergens included (and treated at once), SLIT drops are painless, have a pleasant flavor, and can be taken safely in the comfort of your own home. Patients visit the office every three months for a while to adjust the dose and for Dr. Schroeder to determine how they are progressing.
On the other hand, allergy shots (the most prevalent form of immunotherapy for environmental allergies) must be administered in a doctor’s office much more frequently and sometimes involve multiple injections at one time. Shots and OIT also both carry a much higher risk of side effects and severe reactions. So, it is important for patients to understand and weigh the pros and cons of all options when deciding which route to pursue.
Honest and open communication is just part of the customer service Allergenuity Health prides itself on. “As the only two running and managing the clinic, we add a very personal touch,” James says. “We care how patients are doing and try to meet their needs. Choosing to be a direct care clinic outside the insurance-managed healthcare system, we’re able to do a lot more for our patients that other clinics sometimes simply can’t do.” From the very first inquiry call, to the two-hour initial consult, to each subsequent appointment, all questions are answered, and all patients are made to feel not only empowered about their allergic conditions but also comfortable with their treatment. If any adjustments are necessary, patients can reach out at any time and either James or Dr. Schroeder will respond directly.
Improvement in symptoms occurs as the immune system changes, usually as soon as the first few months. Further progress is seen as therapy continues, and improvement in quality of life is almost assured if, as James acknowledges, “you have the right condition(s) to be treated with this method, you are compliant with your treatment program, and your immune system is amenable to responding to this type of signaling and retraining.”
The clinic has not even been open for two years, and they’ve already helped over 300 patients. In a city with a high number of both food and environmental allergy sufferers, there are now more of us enjoying time outside and eating formerly forbidden foods. Thanks to Allergenuity Health, Charlotte’s got a high number of satisfied citizens too.
For more information about Allergenuity Health and the many services they offer, visit allergenuityhealth.com or call 704-750-0461.