As allergy season descends upon us once again, at least 80 million Americans are currently muffling endless sneezing fits due to seasonal ragweed allergies. Currently, the most effective remedy for seasonal allergies is allergy shots; however, this remedy can be costly, risky, painful, time-consuming, and according to many allergy sufferers, just not worth the unpleasantness.
Prompted by a need for an alternative treatment, an international team of researchers gathered to finally free millions of watery-eyed allergy victims, testing out a brand new seasonal remedy. With mass sighs of relief and whooping applause, the results of this study could open the door to a whole new methodology for treating allergies.
The new seasonal allergy remedy is a daily pill that is designed to relieve ragweed allergy symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and itchy, watery eyes. The pill contains a high dose of a ragweed pollen protein, called Ambrosia artemisiifolia, that is dissolved under the tongue rather than swallowed.
To test how well the pill works, researchers conducted a study on 784 men and women over one year. The results of the study were published in the May edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
In a double-blind study, the participants were randomly assigned a low, medium or high dose of the new pill or a placebo pill. The patients kept a detailed daily diary of their symptoms throughout the study and to record any use of other allergy medications. There were no hazardous effects from the pill, but some participants reported itchy tongue, swollen lips and mild throat irritation.
According to the study, a daily-dose of a pill that contains approximately 12 units of the Ambrosia artemisiifolia protein, works as an effective remedy for allergy symptoms such as runny nose and itchy eyes.
The researchers also noted a 27 percent decrease in the need for allergy medications and nasal steroids among the participants taking the 12 unit dose. There was also a 24 percent decrease in noticeable symptoms and medication use during peak ragweed season (which falls between August and October, depending on geographical location).
“Our results show this oral tablet for ragweed allergy is highly effective and well-tolerated, and offers considerable relief from what many allergy sufferers consider the most agonizing part of the year,” states allergist and lead study investigator Peter Creticos, M.D.
The pill works similar to allergy injections, because it exposes the seasonal allergy sufferer to a tiny amount of the allergen, letting their immune system build resistance to the allergen.
This new treatment may be more convenient because it eliminates the hassle and risk of allergy shots. Current allergy pills work by blocking the release of histamine in the body, as opposed to helping the immune systems build up it’s own tolerance to the actual allergen.
Ultimately, this new treatment combines the simplicity of taking an antihistamine with the effectiveness of allergy shots.
The pill is not yet available to the public and is currently being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval. Once it goes out on the market, this new remedy could set the stage for the development of all sorts of allergy medications that target the immune system directly (rather than just trying to blunt symptoms), potentially providing relief for a range of other allergies as well.
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