If you’re one of the estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies to pollen, Dr. Brian Novick, medical director at the Allergy Testing Center, a division of ProHealth Care Associates, in Forest Hills, may be able to offer some relief.
While the doctor treats patients with food, animal, skin and insect allergies, this time of year the overwhelming issue seems to be hay fever, which, the doctor points out, “has nothing to do with hay and nothing to do with fever.”
The season has been building since late February and, according to Dr. Novick, has been “very big the past six to eight weeks.” Typical symptoms include itchy eyes, a runny nose and, of course, lots of sneezing.
“You can really be miserable,” as a result of these allergies, the doctor said, which he added are the largest causes of days lost at work or in school after the common cold.
Allergies can also be tied in closely to asthma, which he calls “hay fever in the lungs.”
When someone comes to the doctor’s office, he begins by taking down a complete history of the case. Typical questions include: How long has the patient been suffering? What are the symptoms? Does anyone else in the family suffer from allergies? Has the patient tried to treat the symptoms with medication?
Next, a patient is usually given a scratch test, a painless procedure performed either on the person’s arm or back, which can determine within 20 minutes what, if anything, he or she is allergic to.
After making a diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe pills, eye drops or a variety of prescription nose sprays.
He then devises a plan specific to each patient. According to the doctor, he has treated patients ranging in age from 1 month to 100 years old.
Usually, he said, within one to two weeks the patient begins to feel relief.
Approximately 20 percent of Novick’s patients opt to receive allergy immuno-therapy, a series of vaccinations that help the body develop resistance to a particular allergy.
“Most people who go on shots do very well,” he said, indicating that the process takes several months.
The doctor offers a few general tips to deal with the pollen season:
• Use an air conditioner and keep the filters clean.
• If driving, keep windows closed.
• Stay indoors if at all possible when the pollen count is high.
• If you have pets, gently clean them when they come back into the house from outside.
• Rinse your hair before going to sleep at night to prevent pollen from getting on your pillow.
• Continue allergy treatment on a regular basis.
Novick is board-certified in allergy, immunology and pediatrics. He received his primary training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, where he has been an assistant clinical professor for the past 20 years.
He said he is currently affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital and the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
Novick’s office is located in suite 601 at 118-21 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills, where he has been for the past 22 years. Prior to that he was in practice in Manhattan for seven years, he said. He also has an office in East Meadow.
Office hours in Forest Hills are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the office is open until 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. To make an appointment, call (718) 261-3663. The doctor said his office accepts “virtually every insurance.”