For 40 years, the end of winter to Tom Estill meant puffy eyes and a severely stuffed up nose.
"Felt like a sledgehammer hit me in the springtime," he said.
Estill would spend about $50 each year on over-the-counter medications that he says would only temporarily heal his symptoms.
"They're not changing the allergies themselves, they are just making us feel better," said Kerry Finch, a physician assistant.
Finch is an otolaryngology specialist in Rutland. She met Estill in 2013 and introduced him to a treatment he says would change his life: allergy drop therapy.
"It changes how our immune system reacts to these allergens over time," Finch explained.
It's an alternative to shot therapy. Instead of weekly visits to the doctor for allergy shots, patients dose themselves in their own homes.
"I said, wow! Maybe this is something I want to do," Estill said.
Doctors start off by testing patients for allergies. When those allergies are determined, they receive a serum specifically made for them. This office says it's the only one in Vermont to use this method of treatment.
"We start off with very dilute concentrations and work our way up," Finch said.
In Estill's drops lie his worst enemies: birch and oak tree pollen.
"I have been taking the drops now for four years every single day and I have not missed a single dose," Estill said.
The therapy takes about five years of daily drops to work. Last spring, Estill saw a light at the end of a 40-year-long tunnel.
"I couldn't believe it... I just kept waiting. When are these symptoms going to occur? Nothing happened!" he said.
"We have our first batch of patients who started back in 2011, who are now cycling out of treatment," Finch said.
Finch says Estill may be completely off the drops within a year. She also says patients who use drop therapy are less likely to have a severe life-threatening reaction.
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