Allergy Tablets Take the Sting out of Allergy Shots

There’s good news for allergy sufferers who can’t stand the sight of needles: relief from sniffling, sneezing and watery eyes could be as simple as a tablet under the tongue!

Allergy shots are effective and provide long-lasting relief, yet only about 5 percent of allergy sufferers take advantage of them. Why? It is likely due to the frequency of doctor visits and injections. Allergy shots must be administered in a doctor’s office once or twice a week for the first several months before tapering down to one or two shots per month for four to five months.

Patients who want the long-term effects of allergy shots without the stick of a needle can now find relief through prescription allergy tablets. FDA approved medications such as Grastek, Ragwitek and Oralair work the same way as allergy shots, exposing the patient to small amounts of allergens until immunity is built. But unlike allergy shots, these medications can be taken in the convenience and comfort of your own home.

Each medication contains different types of allergen extracts, so identifying your allergy triggers will determine which medication is right for you. Ragwitek, as the name suggests, contains extracts from short ragweed. Grastek contains extracts from Timothy grass, also known as cat’s tail. Oralair is composed of several allergen extracts, including Timothy grass, sweet vernal, orchard, perennial rye, and Kentucky bluegrass.

Although allergy tablets can be safely administered at home, you will need to take the first pill at your doctor’s office. This is a safety precaution in the event that you experience anaphylaxis. Other possible side effects are much less severe and include mouth itching, mouth swelling, and ear and throat irritation.

The schedule for allergy tablets is similar to that of allergy shots. You will take one tablet once or twice a week for the first three to six months, then once or twice monthly for the next three to five years. You will still need to maintain routine follow-up visits with an allergist during this time.

Although allergy tablets are much more convenient than allergy shots, one major disadvantage is that the tablets cannot be tailored to meet each patient’s needs. Each tablet treats a specific set of allergies, and patients with several types of allergies may not find complete relief through tablets alone. These patients may find that their needs are better met with allergy shots, over-the-counter medications, or taking preventive steps to avoid allergen exposure (Source: WebMD).