Reports from the field: Symptom management gives allergy patients relief

While there is no effective treatment for allergic rhinitis, common allergies that cost $1.2 to $4.5 billion a year in direct medical costs, some patients can take steps to relieve symptoms, according to an evidence report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

More than 19 million American workers suffer from allergies to pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens, suffering symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, headache, poor concentration, and fatigue, the report says.

The report concludes that some patients may find relief with simple steps such as using bedding designed to keep out dust mites or cleaning their homes more often.

Injections to build immunity can reduce or eliminate symptoms for seasonal causes, such as trees and pollens, and year-round causes, such as dust mites and cat dander, the researcher say.

Combination treatment, such as antihistamines plus decongestions or antihistamines plus steroid nasal sprays works better than using any of the medications alone. For more information, see the AHRQ web site at: www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/rhinworksum.htm