Most Iowans are glad to see the grass turning green at last, but for those with grass allergies, it often means having to get routine injections. Dr. Jeffrey Stokes, an allergist in Omaha/Council Bluffs, says there will be an alternative to the shots available for grass allergy sufferers next year. “When we do allergy shots it’s called allergen immunotherapy where we inject people with what they’re allergic to,” Dr. Stokes says. “The FDA has recently approved two forms of immunotherapy that are not injections, they’re tablets that you put under your tongue and they’ve been shown to be effective for people with grass allergies.”
The pill form of the medication is a pleasant option to Iowans who don’t like needles, and while Stokes says the new meds are available now, there’s a catch: you need time to build up immunity. “You usually start about two to three months before the grass season starts and you do it throughout the grass season,” Stokes says. “It’s kind of too late to use the grass tablets for the grass season because the grass season’s going to be in about a month.”
About one in five Iowans have an allergy or asthma. Stokes offers a few tips for avoiding that pesky pollen. “When it’s a beautiful evening out there and you want to let all of that spring air in and open the windows, don’t,” Stokes says. “You’ve now let everything outdoors indoors. You want to keep the house closed up with the air conditioning going. If you have a good hepa filter on the AC unit, that’ll help lessen (the impact). In addition, you want to shower when you come in from being outside, wash that excess pollen off you.”
Stokes says a tablet for ragweed allergies should be approved in the next few weeks. Those suffering with symptoms now probably have a tree allergy, while grass allergies will start in a few weeks. Those impacted by mold may suffer during spring, winter and fall.