Georgia is beautiful in the spring time – the azaleas, the dogwoods, the God-awful tree pollen!
I suffered through many a lovely spring with terrible allergies that only grew worse with each of my pregnancies. I slogged through the haze with a Zyrtec prescription and finally started allergy shots. I wanted to hit the maintenance level quickly so I took three shots, twice a week for several months.
And while I think the allergy shots did help my symptoms, I am wondering at what point parents are willing to put their kids through all those shots?
A study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology showed children who get allergy shots had lower health care costs over 18 months than otherwise similar children. The cost of their shots, about $600, was more than made up by drug savings and fewer doctors’ visits and hospitalizations, according to an article in USA Today.
So doctors are trying to come up with ways to make immunotherapy more appealing with non-shot alternatives and faster shot schedules, similar to the one I did.
“Immunotherapy without shots is standard in Europe. There, most doctors prescribe “sublingual immunotherapy.” Patients get liquids or pills containing extracts of grass pollen, dust mites, ragweed or other allergens and put a bit under their tongues at home each day.”
“But none of these products has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some U.S. physicians prescribe sublingual use of liquid extracts approved for injections — but that is an unproven practice. And some studies on sublingual products under development have failed to show they work better than placebos.”
“That is changing, though. In one new study, a daily sublingual grass pollen pill reduced symptoms and medication use 26% in children and teens, says Michael Blaiss, clinical professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. Blaiss, a consultant to the drug’s maker, Merck, presented the data at a recent meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. A study in adults found similar results, he says.”
“The pills have not been compared with shots and might cost more. They are not available now.”
I think the immunotherapy pills would be very attractive to families. I can’t find anything online saying that the pills have been approved in the U.S. yet but my brother visited an allergist yesterday who talked to him about the pills. So I’m very confused about whether they are actually available now in the U.S. (Maybe the doctors is confused or knows they are about to be approved.)
If I had to pursue the shot route with my kids I don’t think I would do the faster shot schedule like I did. You’re still getting the same number of shots, just all at the same time!
So what do you think: Have your kids needed allergy shots? What tipped your decision to do shots versus just taking antihistamines? Would you do the faster shot schedule? How did it go? What are your recommendations for parents considering starting shots for their kids?
What do you make of the European pill immunotherapy? Would you pursue that option if it was available in the U.S.?