Achoum, part 2
So like I said, I've started up the allergy treatments again, and the idea is still basically the same (minus a bigger price tag, but more about that later). The first step was to see my primary care physician and have him write me a "prescription" to see an allergy specialist. As a side note, my medecin traitant is kind of a jerk and I ended up with a five minute lecture about how I never should have stopped in the first place. Yeah thanks dude, I know - hindsight is 20-20. He also said that I should spend more time trying to lose weight than worrying about my allergies. *Ahem*
Moving on...the next step was meeting with the allergy doc to do the allergy testing panel. I'm not sure if it is always the case, but both times, my primary doctors have sent me to a specific allergy specialist - it's not like I was able to pick on out of the phone book or one that was nearby. This time around, I am going to one who has an office right at the Eiffel Tower. Which is nice and all, but she charges more than a regular doctor and that extra money is not reimbursed. I complained about it once and her excuse was "Well look around you - it costs money to be in a place like this!" I'm sure it does, but why should I have to help pay your high-falutin' rent? I also asked about the possibility of switching to someone a bit closer to my house, but she informed me that I would have to start the whole process all over again, so I guess I'm stuck with her.
She redid the allergy testing and while last time around I was treated for one type of pollen and dust mites, this time around, it is two types of pollen and no dust mites. Once you know what you're allergic to, you get a bunch of paperwork to fill out and send in, and a week or so later you will receive a package of little vials through the post. The vials have to be refrigerated, and each one contains a little bit more of the allergen.
The first day, you start off with vial 1 and one droplet under your tongue for two minutes. The second day, you take two droplets from vial 1 and so on and so forth until you reach 10 droplets. You repeat the same process with vials 2, 3 & 4 in order to slowly build up your tolerance. When you've finished the fourth one, you reach the maintenance level and you will keep using the same drops for the next few years. The allergy company will automatically send you more every few months until you ask them to stop.
In case anyone is wondering, you can be treated for more than one allergen at once, and you can also keep taking your allergy medication. You can also stop taking the treatment for a few days if you go on vacation and then restart it after you get back. You should however start the treatment a few months before the allergy season so that your body has some time to get used to it. It's also safe for children ages 5 and over. Pregnant women can also receive the treatment as long as they began the process before becoming pregnant.
As far as costs go - when I was Bretagne, my doctor charged the normal rate, so his visits were covered 100%. There are quite a few visits required the first year, so if possible, you should would try to find an allergy doctor who charges regular prices and not a dépassement d'honoraires like my new one does. The treatment itself is also quite expensive (around 100€ per month), but the majority of mutuelles cover it, so if you have one, this shouldn't be an issue. The only thing that wasn't covered was 4.50€ for postage each time they mailed new vials. I never quite new when they would show up either, so I always ended up scrambling around for 4.50€ in change each time the postman buzzed - however this past time, I learned I could write a check, so something to keep in mind.
Voila, now you know more than you ever probably wanted to know about allergy treatment in France - but if you have any other questions, just leave a comment and I will be happy to answer them!