Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is a common condition that affects more than 60 million people in the United States each year. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Difficulty smelling
- Itchy eyes, nose, mouth, throat or skin
The best form of treatment for allergic rhinitis is avoiding the allergens that cause your reaction. Allergens can include dust, animal dander, pollen, plants, mold, etc. Because it is almost impossible to avoid all allergens, you may need extra medical treatment to relieve symptoms of allergic rhinitis. If your condition is moderate to severe, immunotherapy may be the best and most cost-effective option.
Complications of Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis can affect your quality of life. Many patients report sleep disturbances, fatigue, irritability, depression and difficulty paying attention as a result of their symptoms.
It’s estimated that allergic rhinitis causes more than four million missed days of work each year—that’s nearly $700 million in lost productivity. Allergies also account for almost $14.5 billion in annual medical costs.
When left untreated, allergic rhinitis often becomes chronic and may lead to complications including:
- Chronic nasal inflammation and obstruction, which can lead to more serious complications in the airways
- Acute or chronic sinusitis
- Otitis media, or ear infection
- Sleep apnea or other sleep disturbances
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Dental problems caused by excessive mouth breathing
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
Allergic rhinitis is also linked to increased chances of developing asthma, as well as asthma flares, worsening symptoms and difficult-to-control asthma in those with existing asthma.
Immunotherapy for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis
Immunotherapy, frequently referred to as allergy shots, is a great option for patients with chronic allergic rhinitis. The effects of immunotherapy are long lasting and can help reduce unnecessary healthcare costs later in life.
How much does immunotherapy cost?
In 2000, the average out-of-pocket cost for a patient to treat allergic rhinitis was roughly $1200, but research shows that treating allergic rhinitis through immunotherapy cost patients roughly a third less for the first year of treatment. Treatment in following years was significantly less expensive.
Every patient’s costs may look a little different depending on insurance coverage. But the cost of immunotherapy significantly outweighs the future healthcare costs you may be responsible for including hospitalizations, over-the-counter medication costs and others due to allergy symptoms. In fact, one study found that patients on immunotherapy treatment saved between $3965 and $4397 compared to allergic rhinitis patients who were not.
Talk to your doctor or insurance provider about what out-of-pocket costs you can expect.
What are the benefits of immunotherapy?
In addition to cost savings, other benefits of immunotherapy include:
- Improved mood: Because symptoms of allergies can cause fatigue, headaches and irritability, treating those allergies through immunotherapy can help you feel better physically, which helps you feel better mentally and emotionally.
- No side effects: Unlike over-the-counter medications for allergies, immunotherapy does not cause side effects like drowsiness. It also doesn’t interact with other medications.
- Less frequent treatment: In the beginning phases of immunotherapy, you may need to get injections several times a month, but throughout the remainder of the treatment, your shots are once per month compared to daily medication.
- Long-lasting results: Immunotherapy treatment can last up to 20 years in some patients, whereas even a few missed doses of allergy treatments can make symptoms worse.
- Improved immune system: In addition to treating your current allergies, immunotherapy helps prevent the development of new allergies in the future. It also decreases the chances of developing other allergy-related diseases such as asthma.
If you have allergy symptoms, don’t ignore them. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment methods for you.
Our allergy specialists diagnose and treat patients who suffer from allergic and immunologic disorders. We work with both pediatric and adult patients and use the most comprehensive and up-to-date medical therapies.
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“Allergy immunotherapy: Reduced health care costs in adults and children with allergic rhinitis”. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(12)02641-3/fulltext
“10 Benefits of Immunotherapy Treatment”. Care One Allergy. http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(12)02641-3/fulltext