Help arrives for Hoosier ragweed allergy sufferers

By Michael Henrich

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 21, 2014) — Indiana’s ragweed pollen allergy season is now underway and experts claim there are more solutions for allergy sufferers than ever before.

Dr. Scott Phillips of the Center for Ear, Nose, Throat and Allergy (CENTA) at St. Vincent Health told FOX59 News the ragweed allergy season should last another couple of months.

“For years, allergy sufferers were told [they] just have to live with it [and] there’s nothing you can do,” Phillips said.  “The truth of the matter is there’s a lot that you can do, but it usually takes a doctor’s help to try to figure out what it is you’re allergic to and sometimes to figure out what the best combinations of medicines and treatments are.”

In addition to over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritan and Zyrtec, Phillips said some allergy sufferers might find relief with nasal steroids, many of which are now over-the-counter as well.

“When I see a patient for the first time, I tell them, ‘You’re kind of like a combination lock that I’m trying to pick,'” said Phillips.  “So there’s a lot of trial and error involved until we find the perfect combination for them.”

A newer option is called Ragwitek, which the FDA approved earlier this year.  Dr. Phillips described Ragwitek as a pill containing ragweed antigen that patients place and dissolve under their tongue.

While Phillips applauded Ragwitek’s ability to provide relief, he added that it takes about three months of treatment to work, meaning it is too late to use that option this ragweed allergy season.

Individuals allergic to ragweed can suffer congestion, break out in hives, and experience itchy and watery eyes, nose and the roof of the mouth.

About 20 percent of the population is allergic to something in the environment and that number is climbing, according to Phillips.


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