Is Immunotherapy Effective for Elderly Patients with Allergic Rhinitis?

 A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial was conducted on 60 patients with allergic rhinitis
A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial was conducted on 60 patients with allergic rhinitis

According to a new study, immunotherapy for allergy sufferers reduced symptoms by 55% after 3 years and reduced the amount of medication needed for symptom relief by 64%. Findings from the study – conducted by researchers from Poland – are published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

An increase in patients with allergies has been seen, including baby boomers. Due to certain comorbidities, the diagnosis and management of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) can be challenging in older patient populations and not much evidence exists on the safety and efficacy of immunotherapy in older patients. 

The researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that randomized 60 patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis (aged 65-75 years) to receive either subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) or placebo for 3 years. Patients were required to record each use of allergy medication. 

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Study results showed a significant decrease after the 3rd grass pollen season for the SCIT group. Their median area under the curve went from 7.85 to 4.63 for the combined symptoms and medication score. There was no significant change in the placebo group. The SCIT group had a 55% decrease in the symptoms score and a 64% decrease in the medication score after 3 years of immunotherapy. 

The authors concluded that pre-seasonal SCIT in elderly patients is safe and effective with eliciting an immune response "comparable to what is found in studies of younger patients."  Gailen Marshall, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief, added, "It's important that allergy treatment methods commonly used in young people are also investigated for use in older patients." 

For more information visit acaai.org.

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