Got Hay Fever? Allergy Shots May Help

Allergy shots reduced hay fever symptoms by 55 percent in seniors

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) What can cause a runny nose, red and itchy eyes, sneezing, fatigue and cough — all without a fever? If you guessed hay fever, you probably know the frustration of seasonal allergies. But there may be some relief where that is concerned.

According to a press release issued by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), a new study from Poland found that immunotherapy (allergy shots) greatly reduced the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in older patients who received the shots for three years.

"Older people who suffer from hay fever may have health challenges that younger people do not," said allergist Ira Finegold, MD, former president of the ACAAI, in a press release.

Dr. Finegold says that allergies are often ignored in older patients because they are considered less significant than other illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, depression and high blood pressure. Some older patients may also not realize they have allergies, even though hay fever is more common in patients age 65 and older than any other group.

For this study, researchers separated 60 patients who were between ages 65 and 75 into two groups. One group received allergy shots for three years. The other group received placebo shots for the same amount of time.

The group who received the allergy shots saw a 55 percent reduction in their hay fever symptoms after three years, and a 64 percent reduction in the amount of medication they needed for symptom relief.

"It's important that allergy treatment methods commonly used in young people are also investigated for use in older patients," said allergist Gailen Marshall, MD, PhD, in the press release.

According to Dr. Marshall, more allergists are expanding the age limits on allergy shots as baby boomers enter their senior years. He concluded that, while there have been no doubts about the effectiveness of allergy shots for both adults and children with seasonal allergies, there has not been enough research on their effectiveness in older patients until now.

This study was published Feb. 9 in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

No funding sources and conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
February 5, 2016
Last Updated:
February 9, 2016