PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – For people with a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes during grass pollen season, the options for controlling symptoms include antihistamines, which work sometimes, or cumbersome nose sprays.

A therapy available in Europe can work better, and it’s being studied in the United States.

In the depths of winter, grass may be the farthest thing from your mind. But not so for people who are allergic. An experimental treatment for their allergies would be started now.

“This therapy would begin possibly now in preparation for the grass pollen season. It would be taken every day and then used through the completion of the grass pollen season,” Dr. David Skoner from Allegheny General Hospital Allergy and Immunology said.

It’s not a shot, but a tablet you put under the tongue. The tablet dissolves within seconds and is easy to use.

To decrease the allergic response, immunotherapy slowly exposes a person to higher and higher doses of what they’re allergic to. The tablets would deliver the same thing shots would, but without the pinch.

“It’s a very successful way of treating, but we also know there’s many people who don’t accept the treatment and don’t get it because they’re afraid of shots. They don’t want to come in weekly to visit the doctor’s office for the shot,” Dr. Skoner said.

While the tablets still face FDA approval, studies show they work better than antihistamines in symptom reduction. Studies show a 25 percent reduction with the grass pollen tablets versus 15 percent with antihistamines.

The first doses are given in the office to make sure there isn’t a severe, life-threatening allergic response called anaphyllaxis.

If the patient does okay, the remaining doses are given at home, daily, through the pollen season, and then stopped until the next year.

This process can be repeated for years.

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