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Shorter immunotherapy for hay fever is no more effective than placebos


People with hay fever should carry out immunotherapy for three years
Many people in Germany suffer from hay fever. This disease is the most common allergy in most industrialized countries. Researchers have now found that immunotherapy with a duration of two years is not really useful in the treatment of hay fever. Two years of immunotherapy was therefore only as effective as the administration of placebos.

In an investigation, scientists from Imperial College London found that treating hay fever too short with so-called immunotherapy is no more successful than treatment with placebos. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of the American Medical Association".

Two years of immunotherapy only as effective as placebos
In the case of allergies, immunotherapy is often used, usually in the form of allergy injections. This type of treatment is supposed to prevent itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing, say the experts. However, immunotherapy only makes sense if it is continued for a period of three years. Two years of immunotherapy were only as effective as a placebo, the authors explain.

How is the vaccine received during immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy for hay fever usually involves receiving a high dose of grass-pollen vaccine. This happens either as a monthly injection or as a pill taken daily, says Professor Stephen Durham from Imperial College London in England.

Hay fever can affect work and school
In America there are about 15 percent of people diagnosed with hay fever. In addition, 30 percent suffer from symptoms of hay fever, which can have a negative impact on quality of life and sleep, the scientists explain. This could also have an impact on work or school.

Tablets and nasal spray often cause side effects
About 50 percent of those affected find current tablets and nasal sprays either ineffective or have unacceptable side effects. So-called grass pollen immunotherapy is highly effective, but must be carried out for at least three years for the long-term remission of hay fever, the authors say.

Those affected should have the option of immunotherapy
Immunotherapy offers a treatment option for certain patients. Successful immunotherapy can avoid taking sprays and pills for years. Doctors should generally enable those affected to have the option of immunotherapy, the researchers explain. This means that the sick will take fewer medications and will also be away from work for fewer days.

Experts examined 106 subjects for their study
For their study, the researchers randomly examined 106 adults with moderate to severe seasonal hay fever. The subjects either received immunotherapy for two years or were given an inactive placebo. To better assess the effectiveness of treatment, patients were exposed to certain grasses before treatment, after one year of treatment and one year after treatment, the doctors added.

Two years of immunotherapy are not sufficient to treat hay fever
Ultimately, 92 patients completed the study. In these, the scientists found that two years of immunotherapy were not enough to treat the disease. An improvement only took place in the third year of treatment. Immunotherapy is highly effective, but must be carried out for at least three years for long-term benefits, explains Professor Durham. (as)

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