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New Treatment May Help Those With Severe Allergies

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Severe allergy season is right around the corner and patients are planning to protect themselves with a relatively new treatment that’s widely used in Europe.

Gigi Barnett has more.

“I had a runny nose, my eyes were all red and I couldn’t do anything other than be inside,” said Jennifer Jacobs.

Three years ago, 14-year-old Jennifer Jacobs was trapped indoors. Severe allergies to grass and weeds kept her inside. Her mother Elizabeth suffers, too.

“Most of my adult life, I’ve had a minor cough year-round and post-nasal drip and I realized it was probably due to allergies,” said Elizabeth.

Jennifer and her mother Elizabeth made regular visits to Johns Hopkins head and neck doctor Sandra Lin for a shot to control symptoms. Then Lin told them about a new method to treat severe symptoms. Instead of a shot, the same medicine is dropped under their tongue.

“It’s been great for us to take these drops because we feel better,” said Elizabeth.

“Actually, it’s not a totally new concept,” said Lin.

The treatment method is common in Europe. It’s called sublingual immunotherapy and Lin says it causes a reduction in symptoms in some patients. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve it.

“The people who will say we’re not ready for it, their arguments are we need to have more studies,” said Lin.

As for Jennifer and her mother, those weekly visits to Lin are over and much of their symptoms are gone.

“We don’t get asthma or sinus infections and feel better,” said Elizabeth.

Doctors have been using the treatment in Europe for 20 years.

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