Allergies triggered by specific immune system cells have been identified by scientists. This will eventually lead to the development of a blood test that will improve treatment.
Allergy reactions result from weak immune responses to benign substances such as mold and peanuts. 50 million Americans suffer from nasal allergies, and approximately 200 die from serious food allergies each year.
Researchers report that they identified a Type-2 helper T-cell (TH2) that shows if a person has an allergy. These cells display a “signature” that reacts to common allergens such as peanut, grass pollen, and mold. TH2 cells were present in every person that displayed allergic symptoms. However, they were absent in persons who displaying no symptoms.
Right now, doctors use skin pricks to test reactions to allergy-causing substances. These tests are inaccurate and consequently treatment is ineffective.
Researchers believe these results will eventually lead to identify the exact substance triggering the allergic reaction. Consequently, accurate diagnosis and treatments can be administered.
Current Allergies Medications
Allergy medications are currently a hodgepodge of general options. They are available as pills, liquids, inhalers, nasal sprays, eye drops, skin creams and injections. Here is a brief summary of allergy medications and their application.
Pills and liquids
Oral antihistamines ease a runny nose, and itchy-watery eyes, hives, and swelling.
These antihistamines are less likely to cause drowsiness:
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy)
- Desloratadine (Clarinex)
- Fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy)
- Levocetirizine (Xyzal)
- Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin)
Antihistamine nasal sprays help relieve sneezing, itchy or runny nose, sinus congestion, and postnasal drip. Side effects of antihistamine nasal sprays include a bitter taste, drowsiness or fatigue. Prescription antihistamine nasal sprays include:
- Azelastine (Astelin, Astepro)
- Olopatadine (Patanase)
Antihistamine eye drops, treat itchy, red, swollen eyes. These drops have a combination of antihistamines and other medicines.Side effects include headache and dry eyes. Examples include:
- Azelastine (Optivar)
- Emedastine (Emadine)
- Ketotifen (Alaway)
- Olopatadine (Pataday, Patanol, Pazeo)
- Pheniramine (Visine-A, Opcon-A, others)
Decongestants are used for quick, temporary relief of nasal and sinus congestion. They often cause insomnia, headache, increased blood pressure and irritability. They’re not recommended for pregnant women and people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, glaucoma or hyperthyroidism.
Pills and liquids
Oral decongestants relieve nasal and sinus congestion caused by hay fever. Many decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Afrinol, Sudafed, others), are available over-the-counter.
A number of oral allergy medications contain a decongestant and an antihistamine. Examples include:
- Cetirizine and pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec-D)
- Desloratadine and pseudoephedrine (Clarinex-D)
- Fexofenadine and pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D)
- Loratadine and pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D)
Corticosteroids relieve symptoms by suppressing allergy-related inflammation.
Inhaled corticosteroids treat asthma caused by airborne allergy triggers (allergens). Side effects are minor and can include mouth and throat irritation and oral yeast infections.
Some inhalers combine corticosteroids with other asthma medications. Prescription inhalers include:
- Beclomethasone (Qvar)
- Budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler)
- Ciclesonide (Alvesco, Zetonna)
- Fluticasone (Advair Diskus, Flovent Diskus, others)
- Mometasone (Asmanex Twisthaler)
Corticosteroid creams relieve itching, redness, and scaling.
Side effects include skin discoloration and irritation. Long-term use is dangerous as it results in thinning of the skin and disruption of normal hormone levels. Examples include:
- Betamethasone (Dermabet, Diprolene, others)
- Desonide (Desonate, DesOwen)
- Hydrocortisone (Cortaid, Micort-HC, others)
- Mometasone (Elocon)