-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, June 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- If you suffer from
seasonal allergies, a number of treatments can help relieve
symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes, the U.S. Food and Drug
Those therapies include three newly approved under-the-tongue
immunotherapy products to counter hay fever caused by certain grass
pollens and short ragweed pollen. The medications -- called
Grastek, Oralair and Ragwitek -- can be taken at home, but the
first dose must be given in a doctor's office due to the risk of
serious immune system reactions.
"These medications have the potential for dialing down the immune response to allergens, doing more than just treating the symptoms of allergies," Dr. Jay Slater, director of FDA's division of bacterial, parasitic and allergenic products, said in an agency news release.
This type of treatment, called sublingual therapy, is best
started three to four months before allergy season begins in your
region of the country.
Allergy shots are another immunotherapy option. These injections
contain small amounts of an allergen and can decrease sensitivity
to inhaled allergens. Over two to three months, patients receive
weekly injections with increasingly higher doses of the allergen.
After the maximum dose is reached, patients may receive monthly
injections for three to five years, Slater said.
Antihistamines -- a different type of treatment for seasonal
allergies -- come in many forms, including tablets and liquids.
"There are several different antihistamines. First-generation antihistamines include medications such as diphenhydramine, marketed under the brand name Benadryl. They have been available over-the-counter for a long time," Dr. Narayan Nair, a medical officer at the FDA, said in the news release.
Newer second-generation antihistamines include medications such
as fexofenadine (brand name Allegra) and loratadine (Claritin).
Some antihistamines can cause drowsiness and interfere with the
ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. The drowsiness can be
made worse by taking sedatives or consuming alcohol, Nair said.
Also, patients with chronic conditions such as glaucoma or an
enlarged prostate should talk to their health care provider before
taking certain antihistamines, he added.
Nasal sprays and eye drops can also be used to treat some hay
"Nasal sprays can help relieve nasal symptoms but they should only be used for a limited time without talking to a health care provider. If some nasal sprays are used longer than intended they can make the congestion worse," Nair said.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
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