Living with Allergies: Treatment and Tips

Don’t let allergies ruin your child’s life. Proper treatment along with basic housekeeping tips can help allergy sufferers lead a normal, healthy life. Find out how.

Studies find that treating allergies early and aggressively can prevent many visible complications. For instance, one of the first signs of allergies in children has nothing to do with sneezing or swelling; it’s eczema: patches of dry, scaly skin.

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“We’ve shown that if you treat this early and aggressively, it may not progress into other allergy symptoms, like rhinitis and asthma,” says William Berger, M.D., president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Early intervention often means allergy shots, or immunotherapy, which gradually gets your system used to the allergen, or the use of newer drugs, such as non-steroidal topical ointments that treat eczema.

That’s why it pays to see a specialist. Children under the care of an allergist are 70 percent less likely to be seen in the emergency room or hospital, according to Berger, because their diseases are treated as the chronic, inflammatory diseases they are, rather than addressed only when symptoms appear. That means the use of allergy shots, inhaled corticosteroids to keep rhinitis and asthma under control, and lifestyle changes.

“The drugs are complicated,” Rothenberg says. “People shouldn’t just be out there taking medications.”

Hope on the Horizon
The good news is that years of research is beginning to pay off, he says. A new class of drugs, called “anti-IgE” therapies, show great promise in treating not just rhinitis allergies, but food allergies, allergic skin conditions and asthma.

In one study, researchers used an anti-IgE drug called TNX-901, delivered via injection once a month, to reduce peanut allergy sensitivity. Before the injections, participants reacted to just half a peanut; afterward, it took nine peanuts on average to trigger a reaction.

The first in this class of drugs to hit the market will likely be one for asthma, called Xolair (omalizumab). If the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves it, then doctors can prescribe it for “off-label” uses such as allergies. It won’t be cheap, however; Xolair is expected to cost $10,000 a year, and if approved for asthma, insurers are unlikely to cover it for allergies.

Xolair is just the beginning, however, says Rothenberg. “There’s a lot in the pipeline, but people suffering from these diseases need to be patient.”

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