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Chattanooga Allergy Clinic helps patients through fall

Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012
Chattanooga Allergy Clinic’s staff includes, from left, Todd Levin, MD; Linda Melton, FNP; Hyman Kaplan, MD; Honor Hightshue, FNP; Lee Perry, MD; Brittany Hamby, FNP; and Marc Cromie, MD.
Chattanooga Allergy Clinic’s staff includes, from left, Todd Levin, MD; Linda Melton, FNP; Hyman Kaplan, MD; Honor Hightshue, FNP; Lee Perry, MD; Brittany Hamby, FNP; and Marc Cromie, MD.

Chattanooga Allergy Clinic physician Dr. Marc Cromie said that the region is getting ready to experience a significant fall allergy season due to the hot summer temperatures and just enough rain. The region is expecting a bumper crop of ragweed pollen.

Ragweed is the areas predominant fall pollen. According to scientist a single ragweed plant can produce over a billion pollen granules per season. This pollen is what is causing allergy sufferers to sneeze, have runny nose, coughing and wheezing.

“This time of year really nothing [at the drugstore] works,” he said. “The day you stop those allergy meds the symptoms come back.”

Cromie said CAC’s weekly allergy shots — allnatural immunotherapy — work like a vaccine. Many patients, he said, take shots for four or five years and do not have allergy symptoms anymore, according to him.

“It’s more of a cure than a cover-up,” he said.

CAC patients don’t need daily allergy meds or trips to the hospital for asthma, and 50 percent of patients who start shots early don’t develop asthma at all, said Cromie.

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Chattanooga Allergy will also help patients pinpoint what they’re allergic to.

“It’s easy to be aware of allergies in this city,” Cromie said. “But a lot of people are treating their symptoms in the dark.” Those home remedies can be costly, he said, referencing expensive mattress covers, torn-up carpet or fancy air purifiers that may not treat anything.

Cromie said transforming patients with “eyes swelling out of their head” into normal human beings is so rewarding that he doesn’t mind when people stop him on the street to ask for help.

“I love it,” he said. “Every day I go to work it’s a joy.”

Cromie and his staff were voted Best of the Best allergest in Chattanooga by Times Free Press readers in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and Best of the Best allergist in 2010 and 2011 for North Georgia.

Since Cromie joined the office in 2000, CAC has expanded to five offices from Cleveland to Fort Oglethorpe to make it easy for patients to come in every week. Some offices have extended hours, opening at 7 a.m. or closing at 7:30 p.m., to catch the school and sports crowd.

CAC’s newest clinic at Erlanger at Volkswagen Drive will serve a growing number of employees at the Volkswagen plant and the Amazon distribution center at Enterprise South Industrial Park. This location opened in January and is staffed two days a week.

CAC’s seven allergists and nurse practitioners visit every office each week, so patients will see the same people every time. Cromie said even doctors have to think about customer service now. He calls it the Ritz-Carlton plan.

“I want people to be treating patients like they’re their own family member,” he said. “You treat every patient like they’re a customer. Nowadays people have choices in health care. They can go across the street and see another doctor.”

Cromie was 6 years old visiting family in the Northeast when he had his first asthma attack.

“We thought it was just the North,” he joked, but he said allergy shots enabled him to play sports without suffering from asthma.

“We thought it was just the North,” he joked, but he said allergy shots enabled him to play sports without suffering from asthma.

As more people continue to develop more allergies, Cromie and CAC won’t be out of a job anytime soon.

“We are becoming more of an allergic society,” Cromie said.

Most of the time, he said, allergies develop because the body’s immune system is bored — something that didn’t happen years ago when people were busy fighting parasites and serious diseases. Good hygiene and antibiotics are the fallen angels to blame.

“The pollen season gets worse and worse. It doesn’t go away if you live in this city,” Cromie said. Don’t let allergies prevent you from enjoying what the scenic city outdoors has to offer. Allergy shots can help control your symptoms so you can be outdoors and enjoy nature. “Chattanooga Allergy Clinic can help you live life to the fullest.”

GET ALLERGY RELIEF

Chattanooga Allergy’s five offices are located in Chattanooga at 6624 Lee Highway, Hixson at 1005 Executive Drive, Suite 101, Cleveland at 2960 Westside Drive, Fort Oglethorpe at 101 Crye-Leike Drive, and at Erlanger at Volkswagen Drive, 7380 Volkswagen Drive.

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