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Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Seasonal Allergies

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, Jun 13th, 2013

It’s that time of year again. Your nose is itchy, your eyes are watering. It’s allergy season. The grass pollen is set to explode as soon as it really dries out and gets hot and windy. Symptoms are starting now and getting progressively worse, peaking right around Stampede.

Allergist Dr. Joel Doctor says the first line of defence is the over the counter antihistamine. And if those meds are not giving you enough relief, see your doctor about a prescription for nasal sprays and eye drops. Dr. Doctor says most allergy sufferers will get relief with this combination of antihistamines and prescription sprays and drops.

For the 10 percent that don’t get enough symptom relief, in the past, the only other option was allergy shots. Allergy shots work really well, they’re just a huge commitment. It’s a desensitization process, so patients need to get shots at their doctor’s office weekly, then monthly for 3 years. But after that time, they’ll have a permanent 70 percent reduction in symptoms.

However, now, there is a good intermediate option. If a patient isn’t ready to commit to allergy shots, they can now try a new pill for grass allergies. This a daily pill placed under the tongue and it can be done at home. While the pill dissolves, patients will likely feel some tingling and itchiness in the throat and mouth, but these symptoms will subside quickly. Then patients will have a 30 percent reduction of symptoms. Patients have to start taking the pill 4 months before the season starts and two months into it. So in Alberta, patients would start taking this pill in February, and finish in July. And if a patient were to do this therapy for 3 consecutive years, like allergy shots, they would have that 30 percent reduction of symptoms permanently.

Bottom line according to Dr. Joel Doctor, those who suffer from hayfever should not have to suffer. Just find the treatment options that works best for you.

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