Spring Allergy Season Begins and FDA Approves Allergy Pill that Could Replace Allergy Shot for Some

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It's the start of the spring allergy season! Some can soon find relief by simply taking a pill in place of an allergy shot.

Spring allergy season is officially here, and so are the symptoms of runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes and nose. According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s latest annual list of worst places for spring allergies, New York made it to the top 20 – at number 13.

While many have traditionally found relief from spring allergies with the help of allergy shots, there’s good news for those who suffer allergies due to certain grass pollens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the approval of a pill called Oralair.

Oralair works against certain grass pollens, but it does need to be taken several months in advance (four months before grass allergy season). So, while this approval doesn’t come in time for this spring or summer allergy season, it’s something to look forward to. For those who suffer from other allergies (not grass), allergy shots are still the way to go for relief.

The initial dose of Oralair is taken under the tongue at the doctor’s office to monitor for any allergic reaction. Thereafter, the pill may be taken at home for the duration of the season – so that means less visits you have to make to the doctor’s office.

Oralair works against five types of grass pollen: Sweet Vernal, Orchard, Perennial Rye, Timothy and Kentucky Blue Grass.

“While there is no cure for grass pollen allergies, they can be managed through treatment and avoiding exposure to the pollen,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in an agency press release.

Over 30 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis, often caused by sensitivity to grass pollen, so a new treatment that offers the flexibility of not having to make as many visits to the doctor’s office is welcomed.

There are potential side effects to Oralair, including ear, mouth and tongue itching, swelling of the mouth and throat irritation.

[Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.]

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