A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Allergy desensitization pills an alternative to shots?

Girl smelling flowersWinter might seem like a strange time to talk about outdoor allergies, but it’s quite timely if you are a candidate for one of three new allergy tablets recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The new allergy-fighting pills need to be started about three to four months before grass and ragweed pollen seasons begin, with treatment continuing through the season. With grass allergy season in most of Wisconsin typically starting in early June, it’s not too early to contact your allergist.

“These new tablets are an alternative to treat allergies without injections,” said Dr. Mark Huftel, an allergist at Marshfield Clinic. “This therapy is an attractive option for individuals who have difficulty controlling their allergies to grass and ragweed without regular visits to their doctor’s office for allergy shots.”

Start spring allergy therapy in February

Two of the newly-approved tablets are directed at different kinds of grass pollen, which emerge in the summer. The third tablet is for ragweed, which allergy sufferers well know emerges in August. Those with allergies to grass pollen should start the tablet therapy no later than February.  Ragweed allergy sufferers should start their treatment in April.

“We have patients place these tablets under the tongue and let them dissolve,” Huftel said. “We consider the tablets to be safer than shots, so they do not need to be taken in a medical setting after the first dose.”

Because of concerns of a rare but possible severe allergic reaction, the first tablet is given in the allergist’s office. After that, he recommends patients have an epinephrine injector available at home in case a rare severe reaction would occur with one of the daily doses.

Research shows tablets are as effective as shots, short- and long-term. However, tablets are only effective for one type of allergy; most people with allergies have sensitivity to more than one allergen. In those cases, the injectable therapy may be preferable because it can be customized for an individual patient’s needs.

Ask your allergist about starting spring allergy therapy in the winter.

Tablets will be dispensed as a medication at pharmacies, so check with your insurance company regarding coverage.

If you do find yourself with a bad case of seasonal allergies, Care My Way® may be able to help. Download the app to get started.

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