KATOWICE, Poland, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Older people, including some baby boomers, could see long-term relief from seasonal allergies if treated with allergy shots, researchers in Poland found in a recent study.
Allergic symptoms dropped by more than half during a three-year period among participants in a Polish study who received the shots. Researchers said they found the results surprising because of a lack of previous testing with older patients.
Noting that allergies can be missed among older people because of other chronic health conditions, researchers at the Medical University of Silesia found immunotherapy could significantly decrease symptoms after successive years of treatment.
"Older people who suffer from hay fever may have health challenges that younger people do not," said Dr. Ira Finegold, an allergist and past president of the American College of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, in a press release. "Hay fever is often ignored in older patients as a less significant health problem because of diseases such as asthma, coronary heart disease, depression and high blood pressure. Also, some baby boomers might not realize they have allergies, and their physicians might not suggest allergy shots."
For the study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, researchers recruited 60 patients between the ages of 65 and 75 with seasonal allergic rhinitis and grass pollen allergy. Of the participants, 33 were given specific subcutaneous immunotherapy, or allergy shots, and 27 received a placebo for three years, while have symptoms monitored and tracking each use of other anti-allergy medications.
After three years, patients receiving allergy shots saw their symptoms go down by 55 percent and use of medication drop by 64 percent. Patients given a placebo did not report a significant change in symptoms or use of allergy medication, the researchers reported.
"More and more allergists are expanding the age limit for allergy shots as the baby boomer generation enters their senior years," said Dr. Gailen Marshall, editor-in-chief of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "Although there are no doubts about the effectiveness of allergy shots for both adults and children, there hasn't been much research until now in older patients."