(WSMV) - More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.

Airborne allergens, such as animal dander and pollen can trigger allergies. A man was driving through Belle Meade on June 10th around 2 p.m. when he suffered an allergy attack. He started sneezing, drove off the road, and crashed his SUV. It flipped over near the intersection of Nichol Lane and Page Road, right next to Percy Warner Golf Course.

Golfers and construction workers rushed to free the driver moments before his vehicle caught on fire.

In Franklin, John Prince told News 4 that he also struggles with allergies.

"It used to get real bad," Prince said.

He found that his pets were making him sick.

"Not related to grass and pollen, but cats and dogs mostly contributed to mine. They would cause me to have asthmatic reactions, coughing, wheezing. It was really getting to the point where I could not even breath,” Prince said.

John thought he was going to have to get rid of his pets, until he found out about Allergycare of Cool Springs.

"As soon as they found out what my allergies were and what was contributing to them they sent me a little bottle of the drops that you take under the tongue. Three drops under the tongue a day," Prince said.

It's called sublingual immunotherapy - medicine in a bottle instead of shots. Dr. Robert Owen and his colleagues have been using the treatment to help people for well over a decade.

"There's special tissue in the mouth, particularly under the tongue. It's concentrated, which is part of your immune system. As long as it gets to the source of the immune system that you want it to you're going to get desensitization, the improvement, and less allergies, “ said Dr. Owen.

Common allergy symptoms include, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, and coughing. Another patient we spoke to named Jennifer Bottoms had some of the worst symptoms, but she says Dr. Owen changed all of that.

"It would turn into a sinus infection that would have me at the doctor with lung issues. I started the drops and I don't have these problems anymore,” said Bottoms, who described the process as surprisingly simple.

The clinic tests patients for allergies and creates a serum that’s specifically designed to target their worst symptoms. The medicine can be mailed to the patient for daily use at home. In some cases, Dr. Owen says patients who use the drops sometimes develop an immunity to whatever makes them sick.

Allergies can effect anyone, including Belle Meade's top cop Tim Eads. Chief Eads suffers from severe allergies and needs regular allergy shots. He told News 4 that his allergies have caused him to miss work in the past.

"Last year I missed more than I missed in 12 years,” Eads said.

To help control his symptoms, Chief Eads needs three allergy shots at one time.

"It's a pain in the arm. I get two shots in one arm and one in the other,” Eads said.

Chief Eads also discussed the dramatic SUV crash that was recently captured on the police department's traffic cameras that was apparently caused by a sneezing fit. Eads said he believes it could have happened just the way the driver described.

"It's very plausible, because I've had a sneezing fit or two myself. And it can be repetitious. Five or six sneezes. Just enough to catch your breath!"

Allergy patients told News 4 they’re in favor of more treatment options. They said taking drops under the tongue seems like a great alternative to painful shots. Chief Tim Eads admitted he’s ready to try a new approach.

"That would be a lot more convenient. And if it works then I would be extremely feeling blessed to have an opportunity to try that,” Eads said.

Dust mites and mold are reportedly two major reasons people suffer allergies in Middle Tennessee. Dr. Owen says sublingual immunotherapy can be just as effective as shots without the danger of medication winding up directly in the blood stream. Here’s a link with more information about this treatment. 

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Anchor

Tom Randles is an award-winning reporter and anchor for News4 since 2006.

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