Experts predict Sonoma County allergy sufferers will have a lot to sneeze about

Linda Biggers, NCMA Allergy Center manager & clinician, talks about the impending allergy season and provides options for allergies sufferers.

We are able to test for more than 40 different inhalant allergens that are common to the area, such as trees, grass, weeds, molds, dust mites, animals, and others. From the results of these tests we are then able to advise patients on the best options for treating their individual allergy symptomsAn increase in wetter weather in the Northern California area naturally means a lot more green and growing foliage and plants, and along with that; a humdinger of an allergy season. A relief from drought conditions is most welcome, but for pollen sensitive allergy sufferers, it also means an increase in misery-causing grass and weed pollen.

“Our patients have been reporting the typical allergy season symptoms, such as itchy eyes and sneezing,” explains Linda Biggers, NCMA Allergy Center manager & clinician. “This is not surprising since according to the experts we are already well into grass pollen season. Grass pollen is the most allergy causing pollen; and it’s one of the most prolific pollen producers in our area.” Grass pollen levels typically become most prevalent though the month of June. “This year the pollen intensity might go on a bit longer thanks to the current uptick in heat we’re experiencing,” she added.

Although allergies might be a challenge to deal with, it is a normal physiological reaction to airborne allergens. Typical reactions include a runny nose and a swelling of the sinus passages as the body tries to block the allergen from getting into the system. The immune system reacts defensively to the pollen and responds to attack by producing large amounts of antibody. This allergic reaction can cause symptoms including; itchy watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, hives, fatigue, and irritability.

Understanding pollen season

Anyone who suffers from seasonal pollen allergies probably knows that it’s spread by the wind. Any warm afternoon breeze can be loaded with pollen from trees, grasses, flowering plants and a plethora of weeds. Although springtime may be the launch of allergy season, many plants pollinate year-round. And according to online pollen reporting sites, pollen counts vary from day to day and hour to hour depending on heat and precipitation.

According to researchers, nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the U.S. and it’s a problem that is on the increase. As many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children report allergy symptoms. Allergic disease including asthma, is the now the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. in people of all ages. It has been estimated that between 24-40 million of allergy patients suffer specifically from an airborne allergy resulting in hay fever or Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis.

Allergy independence with immunotherapy

Over-the-counter remedies and staying indoors might not work for everyone and that’s when doctors might recommend immunotherapy. This type of allergy therapy follows a thorough allergy test to screen for which allergens are causing the problem, patients are then set up on a schedule of injections that are geared toward not only relieving allergy symptoms but eliminating them altogether.

“We are able to test for more than 40 different inhalant allergens that are common to the area, such as trees, grass, weeds, molds, dust mites, animals, and others. From the results of these tests we are then able to advise patients on the best options for treating their individual allergy symptoms,” said Biggers

“In order to get a person’s immune system to stop over-reacting to allergens, we may offer immunotherapy which uses a gradual desensitization process that involves injecting extracts of identified allergens. Normally these injections are given once a week over the course of several months,” she explained. “We then graduate treatments to bi-monthly and eventually to just once a month. The goal is to make you feel better while cutting back or eliminating your allergy medications.”

About NCMA Allergy Center

The NCMA Allergy Center provides patients with a clear solution to the treatment of allergies using a collaborative team of board-certified otolaryngologists and allergy specialists. SRHN physicians are members of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. For more information on the NCMA Allergy Center visit the NCMA website or call 707-523-7025 to schedule an appointment.


Dr. Mark Homicz Receives 2017 Top Doctor Recognition

Mark Homicz, M.D. of NCMA’s Santa Rosa Head and Neck Surgery group has been selected by the San Francisco Magazine as among the top Otolaryngology doctors for 2017.

San Francisco Magazine recently queried area doctors to nominate their choice of best physicians in eight Bay Area counties for 2017. Almost 1,000 nominations were submitted and a little over 500 physicians were selected by the healthcare research company managing the award process. Results were announced the magazine’s most recent issue.

Under the category of Otolaryngology Northern California Medical Associate’s Otolaryngologist Dr. Mark Homicz has been selected for this honor by San Francisco Magazine for two years. This year’s award notes these specialties performed by Dr. Homicz:

  • head & neck cancer
  • salivary gland tumors & surgery
  • sinus tumors
  • skull-base tumors

About Dr. Homicz

Dr. Mark Homicz graduated from the prestigious Yale Medical School in 1998 and conducted his internship training in general surgery at Stanford University. He completed a residency in Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Homicz’s training included an intensive focus on head and neck cancer and thyroid/parathyroid surgery. He has received national awards from the American Academy of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery, American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery, and the Triologic Society for academic achievement and research during training.

Dr. Homicz joined NCMA and the Santa Rosa Head & Neck Surgical Group in 2004. He is board certified in his field and practices all areas of ENT – Ear, Nose, Throat and Head & Neck Surgery. Particular areas of interest and expertise include thyroid/parathyroid surgery, head and neck cancer, facial plastic/reconstructive surgery, and nasal/sinus surgery. Dr. Homicz also serves as Director of the NCMA Thyroid Center.

About NCMA Santa Rosa Head & Neck Surgery

Santa Rosa Head and Neck Surgical Group (SRHN) offers expertise in the medical and surgical treatment of patients with a wide variety of disorders of the head and neck including; hearing and balance problems, nasal/sinus disease, snoring, voice disorders, and swallowing problems. All SRHN physicians are recognized for their expertise in the management of cancers of the nose, mouth, throat, neck, facial skin, and thyroid. They have also been extensively trained in cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the face and neck. Listed below is more information on the services offered:

  • The Hearing Center at SRHN
  • Nose/Sinus
  • Throat/Voice/Swallowing/Snoring
  • Head & Neck Tumors
  • Thyroid/Parathyroid
  • Facial Plastic/Reconstructive
  • Skin Care
  • The Allergy Center at SRHN

NCMA Santa Rosa Health & Neck Surgery is located at 1701 Fourth St. Suite 120 in Santa Rosa, CA. For more information about Dr. Homicz and SRHN surgery visit our website. Call (707) 523-7025 to make an appointment.

Marshall Faulk Testimonial on the Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty

Check out this video that describes Balloon Sinuplasty, an exciting new procedure for sinus sufferers. This state-of-the-art technique is now being offered by NCMA’s Santa Rosa Head and Neck (SRHN) ENT Group. The SRHN Otolaryngologists are experts in the treatment of a wide variety of disorders of the head and neck including nasal/sinus disease.

BS Video

More than 250,000 patients suffering from chronic sinusitis like this video describes have been treated by physicians using Balloon Sinuplasty technology. Balloon Sinuplasty (BSP) is a safe and effective procedure for chronic sinusitis patients who do not respond well to medications and are seeking relief from uncomfortable and painful sinusitis symptoms. Refer to SRHN for more information about the group.