Study offers hope for allergy sufferers that don't like shots in doctor's office
When Dr. Deborah Gentile says her research might put her out of work, the allergist is speaking only half in jest.
Gentile, director of research at Allegheny General Hospital's division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, was a lead author on a recent study that found that drops or tablets taken under the tongue are a safe alternative to allergy shots that must be administered in a doctor's office.
The treatment has been in use in Europe for nearly 15 years and could be approved for use in the United States within the next two years, Gentile said. The oral therapy provides relief faster than shots, which must be administered over a period of months, and carries the added advantage that it can be administered in the home, Gentile said.
New advances cannot come soon enough for the 35 million Americans who, according to the National Institutes of Health, suffer from allergies triggered by a variety of factors ranging from foods to tree pollens.
Gentile said private pharmaceutical companies including Merck and Greer Laboratories Inc. have invested heavily in research in new allergy treatments and diagnostic techniques.
Their interest is easy to understand in light of government studies that peg the annual cost of allergy treatments at more than $12 billion a year. The figure includes an estimated $1.3 billion in doctor's office visits and $11 billion for prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The indirect cost of allergies in missed days of work or school, lost productivity and, in extreme cases, death was estimated at $2.2 billion a year.
Talk of treatment advances is especially relevant as tree pollen counts hit peak levels this month in Pittsburgh, triggering runny noses, itchy eyes and sneezing in the city the Allergy and Asthma Foundation ranked as 39th in the 100 worst nationally for allergies this year.
“Quite a few things are in clinical trials,” said Angel Waldron of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
Waldron said Dymista, a new prescription nasal spray that combines an antihistamine with an anti-inflammatory agent, is proving helpful to many.
Gentile and Dr. David Skoner, director of Allegheny General's division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, hold high hopes that new diagnostic tools and treatments will yield major gains for the 40 percent of children younger than 10 who suffer from allergies.
“Unfortunately, the sniffles and sneezes are just the beginning of the problems,” Gentile said.
She said failure to manage those symptoms can lead to poor sleep and learning difficulties, among other problems.
The Pittsburgh researchers said they are cautiously optimistic that the new treatments will be effective for children and might even prevent them from developing asthma, which about a third of children with allergies eventually experience.
Meanwhile, they pointed to two new “dry” nasal sprays, beclomethasone and ciclesonide, as promising options for children who might tolerate them better than water-based sprays.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- University of Pittsburgh puts issue of Cosby’s honorary degree on agenda
- Upper St. Clair man escapes injury when car gets stuck on Fla. railroad tracks
- Western Pennsylvania population growth, in ‘exurban’ areas, bucks national trends
- Newsmaker: Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Zupancic
- Pittsburgh zoo receives $9M gift — largest ever — from Mellon Foundation
- Parents of Shaler girl fatally struck by suspected drunk driver will hold press conference
- Mother, daughter from Western Pa. volunteer to help those who’ve lost everything start to move forward
- Smaller nonprofits benefit as Allegheny RAD budget grows
- Oil, sealant spills make messes on roadways in Hampton, Fineview
- Bishop Zubik visits Mooncrest Community Center