How Common are Allergies in Older Adults?
An estimated 20 to 30% of the world’s population now suffers from allergic diseases such as hay fever and bronchial asthma. You can get hay fever – an allergic response to indoor or outdoor allergens – at any age. However, older adults often don’t realize they have hay fever because they have other chronic diseases. Additionally, older adults can be more difficult to diagnose, as well as treat, when they have other health challenges.
What are Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots are injections you receive at regular intervals – usually a period of three to five years – to stop or reduce allergy attacks. If you suffer from hay fever, your doctor may recommend allergy shots for long-term relief.
Allergy shots work by changing the way your immune system reacts to the specific allergens that bother you. Depending on your allergies, they may be from purified extracts of pollen, dander, or other substances.
Do Allergy Shots Work for Older Adults?
We’ve known for decades that allergy shots are very effective in adults and children and can markedly reduce the development of asthma in children. Now we have proof that allergy shots are also effective in patients over 65 years of age. A recent study of 60 adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years old, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, showed that allergy shots reduced symptoms by 55%. Allergy shots also decreased the amount of medications they needed for symptom relief by 64%. The study’s results indicated that an aging immune system doesn’t significantly alter the effectiveness of allergy shots.
Who is a Good Candidate?
If allergy medications aren’t enough to control your symptoms, make an appointment with a board-certified allergist – it’s possible you may be a good candidate for allergy shots. An allergist can run tests to see which allergens are causing you trouble and can determine whether you are a good candidate based on your test results and medical history.