This month we begin our series of interviews with allergists across the country. It is our hope that reading about these physicians' practices, their favored treatments, and what they have to say about the future of allergy treatment will provide you (and us!) with valuable insight into your own allergy treatment options. We begin with an allergist close to home, right here in the Atlanta area.
Dr. Eugene Hurtwitz is an established pediatrician that has been in full-time practice as an allergist for over ten years with the Center for Asthma & Allergy of West Georgia. He specializes in seeing pediatric patients, and has been recognized by his peers as one of the top allergists in the Atlanta area.
We were honored to speak with him this month about his practice, the allergy treatments that he recommends, and where he sees allergy treatment going in the future.
How big is your practice? Is there a particular type of allergy or treatment your practice specializes in?
The Center for Asthma & Allergy has four physicians and three nurse practitioners, and we have seven locations throughout metro Atlanta. We see a mix of pediatric and adult patients and care for all types of allergic disorders, including allergic rhinitis, recurrent sinusitis, hives, food allergies, and stinging insect allergies.
What do you love about your job?
The best part of being an allergist is the fact that we can improve the quality of life for almost every patient we see. Most children and adults have suffered from allergy-related problems for a prolonged period of time. When they come to see us, we provide them with a short-term plan for immediate relief of their symptoms as well as a long-term plan - often including immunotherapy - to provide sustained relief. It is rewarding to see adults and even young children who say that their treatment, including allergy shots, has been highly effective after one to two years. Being an allergist is rewarding because with almost every patient I see, I know I can do something for them.
If you could suggest one thing for your patients what would it be?
Patients need to be aware of the symptoms related to allergies and the treatment options available to them. They need to avoid triggers and seek treatment early when allergy symptoms occur.
We also see great success with allergy shots for many of our patients. Shots for hayfever, allergic rhinitis, and allergic asthma (the most common form of asthma in children and adults) reduce complications like sinusitis and ear infections. Shots are also effective for cat and dog allergies, although we recommend trying to reduce exposure to pets as well, at minimum keeping them out of bedrooms.
What is your favorite allergy relief product?
A combination of products works best, but in terms of environmental control, we emphasize dust mite control measures, including allergy bedding covers and frequent washing of bedding in the hottest water possible. We also treat our patients with medications and, for many with hay fever, we offer allergy shots.
Where do you see allergy treatment going in the future?
I see allergy treatment becoming more and more convenient. Better medicines will be available, with more options to choose from. Allergy treatment approaches will become more precise as we come to a better understanding of what, specifically, causes allergies. Allergy drops (sub-lingual immunotherapy, or SLIT) is also possible in the near future, but the treatment still needs approval by the FDA. We see excellent results with allergy shots, and these results will improve further as researchers pinpoint the actual proteins that cause allergies.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
A lot of our patients are pediatric patients, children who can't articulate how they feel like they have a cold all the time or how their asthma is affecting their day-to-day quality of life. It's important for a physician who focuses on allergy illnesses to identify how the allergies are affecting the overall lives of these children, and what can be done to address the problem.
It's equally important to be able to communicate with parents the impact allergies and asthma can have on their child's sleep, performance in school, and behavior, and that once allergies are treated, their child's quality of live improves tremendously. It's extremely rewarding to hear children as young as five and six who are receiving allergy shots say they're glad they're getting the shots because they make them feel better.
More About Dr. Hurwitz
Eugene S. Hurwitz, M.D. is a well-established allergist who has been practicing in Carrollton and Villa Rica, Georgia since 1995. He is board certified in allergy and immunology as well as pediatrics and is a fellow in the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology as well as in the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Hurwitz received his medical degree from the St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1975. He completed his preventive medicine residency at the Centers for Disease Control in 1981 and his fellowship in allergy/immunology at the National Institutes of Health in 1990.
Dr. Hurwitz has published numerous articles on his clinical research and is a frequent speaker at meetings of his specialty's professional societies.