Seasonal Allergies Are Worse This Year: How Specialty Compounding Pharmacies Can Help
Every year it feels like seasonal allergies get worse and worse. Patients come in complaining they’ve never had allergies this bad before—it seems exaggerated, but actually, they are right.1 Seasonal pollen counts have been rising each year, with this year’s count the worst in recent history. Combined with the fact that some people are just genetically predisposed to allergies, we need to be aware of what’s going on with this increase in allergens, and what treatment options, both OTC and compounded from bulk APIs, are optimal.
The Changing Landscape of Seasonal Allergies
Pollen from trees, flowers, weeds and grasses make up one of the most powerful allergens, causing reactions in over 50 million Americans each year. Many of these allergens are based on seasons and geographic location.
- Spring typically brings about an increase in tree pollens and some weed pollens;
- Summer is associated with grass pollens, further aggravated by mowing and lying in the grass;
- Fall is usually dominated by weed pollens and some tree pollens.
The recent years of changing weather, plus climate change-induced pollutants (ozone and nitrogen dioxide) are removing the demarcation between seasons.2 That means tree, grass, and weed pollens are hitting all at once, alongside mold, dust mites, and dander. Plus, the natural protection we have through our immune responses is going down as homes get cleaner and more sterile.
There’s no cure for allergies, but there are ways to reduce the impact allergens have on your patients’ lives. The first, and easiest, step is to minimize exposure, which means shutting windows and doors at night and on windy days, and staying indoors as much as possible. That’s an inconvenience even when the allergy period is short, but your patients are not going to spend three-quarters of the year indoors. There are, of course, traditional over-the-counter and pharmacy prescriptions, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants, but many patients are anecdotally reporting decreased efficacy from drugs they have always been using. Also, an OTC that works for one patient during one season may have less effect on that or another patient during a different season.
Some patients are looking more to natural remedies for much needed relief. Common options include:
- Raw local honey or bee pollen, which may desensitize the patient to pollens in her area;
- Butterbur, an herb now in clinical trials, that has antihistamine properties;
- Vitamins B and C, which also work as antihistamines;
- Grape seed extract and other flavonoids that have antioxidant properties.
Instead of taking a scattershot approach to seeing what combination of prescribed and OTC drugs and natural substances may work for a patient, a better approach is to determine what allergens affect that patient, and then design individualized treatments.
Targeted Treatments from Specialty Compounding Pharmacies Hold the Answer
Each patient has a unique allergy profile that can be determined by an allergist, who administers a scratch test that exposes the patient to multiple allergens in low doses. Based on these identified allergens, and unique patient needs, specialty compounding pharmacies can work with the patient’s healthcare team to design a unique treatment for that patient. While such allergy treatments have typically focused on injections containing small amounts of relevant allergens given at regular intervals, compliance has been low due to cost of time and fear of needles, especially in children.
These days, however, specialty compounding pharmacies can customize oral drugs and nasal sprays based on the allergen and measured local pollen levels. Drops or lozenges placed under the tongue are also options; in fact, two sublingual drugs targeting grass pollens were recently approved by the FDA, as well as one targeting ragweed.3 These needle-less drugs are easier treatments to take, are less time-consuming, and are associated with better compliance. Since patients can take medications compounded with drugs and natural remedies that work for them, compliance and relief also go up.
Allergy relief has come a long way. As allergen trends change spread over a longer season, unique treatments customized by specialty compounding pharmacies should be a key tool. Your patients will thank you!
Specialty compounding pharmacies offer both traditional treatments and drugs that can be individually suited to each of your patients Pharmaceutica North America has a proven record of providing safe and high-quality compounding materials. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you deliver effective personalized medicines to your patients.
- “Why This Pollen Season Is the Worst,” April 21, 2015, http://www.weather.com/health/pollen/news/2015-pollen-season ↩
- “Projected Carbon Dioxide to Increase Grass Pollen and Allergen Exposure Despite Higher Ozone Levels,” Nov 5, 2014, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111712 ↩
- “SLIT Treatment (Allergy Tablets) for Allergic Rhinitis Nothing to Sneeze About,” http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/sublingual-immunotherapy-for-allergic-rhinitis.aspx ↩