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Allergies Health Center

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Staying Active and in Control Despite Their Allergies

Meet four people with allergies who combine medication, alternative therapies, and the right attitude to maintain control over their lives.

Liz Erk: Runner, Rower, Skater continued...

Meanwhile, Erk's found a new athletic passion. Two years ago, she learned how to skate and started to play ice hockey. That’s brought back her inner competitor. "For my level, I'm pretty fast," Erk says. "And it's all because I have the stamina for it."

Fighting back against the irritants that caused her such grief has altered Erk's life both mentally and physically. "My life is completely different," she says. "Tackling my allergens head on made a total difference for me. I'm in the best shape of my life."

Fred Coe: Keeping Allergies Off the Court

Fred Coe spent part of the fifth grade encased in plastic. Having had asthma from the time he was very young, Coe developed double pneumonia. It was so severe that he was placed in an oxygen tent. He didn’t return to school until his sixth grade class had already begun.

Coe’s list of allergic substances – both indoors and out -- contains all the typical culprits: dander, dust, pollen, and other airborne allergens. Sauerkraut is another trigger, but he admits it’s one that isn’t quite as challenging to avoid.

Despite spending an entire winter of his life without leaving his home, Coe is now determined to make his allergies an annoyance rather than a crippling condition.

"I've always been real active -- hyperactive, actually," says Coe, who is now 61 and living in Knoxville, Tenn. But, he says, as a youth growing up in Chattanooga, without the allergy medications and types of treatment available now, it was a struggle. Add to the mix of challenges two parents who each smoked three packs of Lucky Strikes per day and the chances for drawing an easy breath got slimmer and slimmer.

But Coe, whose desire to be active couldn’t be quelled, has embraced modern medical perspectives on how to face down his allergies. He says he often wakes up sneezing. When he does, he immediately takes his over-the-counter allergy medication. He has an inhaler in case breathing becomes too difficult. For more than a decade, he received injections each month to combat allergens.

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