This week—just in time for all the (achoo!) spring blooms!—we meet Julie Wendt, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI, FACP, DABOM, an allergy and immunology specialist with Relieve Allergy Asthma & Hives. Here, she chats about allergies and advances in the field, gives advice on over-the-counter choices, and shares the motto she lives by.

What drew you to this field? 

The complexity and logic of the immune system is what drew me to this field. This is the system of the body that defends against infection and goes haywire in immunodeficiency and autoimmunity. Severe allergies and allergic diseases also play a part in how the immune system functions, such as asthma, allergic rhinosinusitis, allergic conjunctivitis, hives, eczema, drug allergy and food allergy. 

What services does Relieve Allergy offer? 

We offer testing to all allergic states and the latest treatment for allergies. We focus on environmental and food testing, drug testing, immunotherapy (like allergy shots), as well testing and treatment for severe forms of life-threatening allergies and much more.

Any new advances in the field? 

Food oral immunotherapy, which is treating a patient who would formerly have a severe allergic reaction, also known as anaphylaxis, to a particular food and decreasing that response. This could mean a non-life-threatening form of anaphylaxis, to a “bite-proof” state, in which they can accidentally ingest a bite with little or no reaction. In some rare cases, patients can even return to free eating the food.

What do you love about your job? 

My patients and their stories, their lives. When their disease states are under control, I really enjoy getting to know them. I also love when an entire family sees me because we get a little peak into their family dynamic. I’ve gotten to watch children grow into adults. This is the best and most phenomenal thing I do.

For those who have just occasional allergies—is there any over-the-counter option that you recommend most?

I think it is worth trying a variety of treatments and combinations and most patients do before they see me or another allergist. 

For eye allergies, I recommend the over-the-counter saline rinses and antihistamine eye drops. For nose and sinus allergies, the sinus rinses, and antihistamines and/or decongestants and corticosteroid nose sprays are the best route to take for over-the-counter treatments. Trying to avoid pollens and other triggers from entering the home is also prudent: closing the doors and windows, letting the air conditioning run to filter the air, adding an air purification system to the bedroom, wiping off dogs with baby wipes when they enter the house, taking shoes off before walking into the house, showering before bed to eliminate carriage of pollen into bed with you, keeping bed linens clean, and keeping pets out of your bed. 

For food and drug allergies, there really is nothing over the counter, but avoidance of the trigger is always a great first step. If these are not possible, if the patient is on too many medications or has side effects or should not be on those medications, then it is wise to see a board-certified allergist-immunologist to evaluate allergies. Not everyone has allergies, and it is important to determine the best course of treatment, so some people should not even be on an antihistamine and are just risking the side effects like memory issues, dementia, reflux, and dehydration.

What are your favorite places around Scottsdale?

I love the parks in my neighborhood because my neighbors, who are all wonderful people, come out with their dogs and chat. When there is no one around, the parks are peaceful and full of wildlife with a view of the beautiful mountains. I also love my church, CCV, because it is full of wonderful people. My fencing club is just fun. I also love to check out the little cafes, where you can eat outside just about all year-round. It reminds me why we live here in Arizona. 

Motto you live by? 

Love solves every issue.

Julie Wendt