New FDA-Approved Allergy Treatment Allows Patients To Skip The Needle

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Spring means the return of leaves, flowers, and grass.  It is a welcome sight for many, but irritating for people with seasonal allergies, including people like Brittany Thompson, who has struggled with them since childhood.

"I would get hives wherever I touched, especially like in the grasses; on your legs, arms, hands,” explains Thompson.

Spring's bounty is an old story to Dr. Princess Ogbogu, an allergist at the OSU Wexner Medical Center.  "In central Ohio, we have a lot of pollen allergies.  Grass pollen and weed pollens are probably the most common allergies that we see here.”

Ogbogu treats patients like Brittany with weekly shots to build up her immunity, something she says is working.  Brittany says she has to be "literally rolling around in the grass to notice any red spots,”

But next year, patients like her will have a new option. Instead of shots, they could take a daily pill that dissolves under the tongue. The pills treat allergies to ragweed, as well as grass.

Ogbogu says there are advantages to taking the pills at home, but cautions they may not be the best option for everyone. 

She says the pills only work against grass or weed allergies and won't help other kinds. They also could trigger reactions in about half the patients. She cautions that allergy-sufferers should see a certified allergist before starting the treatment.

For Brittany Thompson, she prefers shots, but understands why others would choose the pills.

Doctor Ogbogu says patients must begin taking the pills three months before the start of grass or ragweed pollen season, too late to begin treatment this year.