Public Release: 

Hay fever sufferers prefer prescription medication, but use over-the-counter relief

Most allergy sufferers not under the care of an allergist

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

SAN ANTONIO, TX (November 5, 2015) - Anyone suffering with seasonal allergies knows the local pharmacy carries shelves full of over-the-counter medications to help manage symptoms. Unfortunately, most seasonal allergy sufferers take over-the counter (OTC) products rather than the treatments they actually prefer - prescription medications.

A new study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, shows that many seasonal allergy sufferers don't seek the proper treatment or medication for symptoms, and those who take OTC medication aren't satisfied with the results they get.

The study authors interviewed 501 children ages 12-17 and 500 adults, all of whom had seasonal allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. Of those surveyed, most reported moderate (45 percent) to severe (38 percent) symptoms in the spring and moderate (60 percent) to severe (21 percent) symptoms in the fall. Of the adults surveyed, 62 percent said they generally managed seasonal allergies with OTC oral medications.

"Even though the majority of adults and children we surveyed said they took OTC oral medications for allergies, only one third were very or extremely satisfied with the treatment," said allergist and study author Eli Meltzer, MD, ACAAI fellow. "In contrast, we found that about 50 percent of adults and children surveyed were very or extremely satisfied with prescription treatment, but the majority of those sufferers aren't necessarily obtaining prescriptions. Health plans tend to encourage patients to seek OTC medications first, which can delay allergist involvement."

The survey found children were significantly more likely than adults to be getting care from an allergist - 24 percent for children vs. 14 percent for adults. Children were also more likely to be receiving immunotherapy (14 percent) than adults (10 percent.) Immunotherapy is commonly called allergy injection treatments, or allergy shots

"The combination of less frequent care by allergists and more frequent use of OTC medications has not translated into patient satisfaction," said allergist Bryan Martin, DO, ACAAI president-elect. "In general, patients who see an allergist and who are on prescription medication are more satisfied with their allergy treatment."


Abstract Title: Majority of Patients With Seasonal Allergies Use Non-prescription Medications but are More Satisfied with Prescription Treatments
Author: Eli Meltzer, MD, ACAAI fellow

For more information about allergies and to locate an allergist in your area, visit The ACAAI Annual Meeting is November 5-9, 2015 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX. For more news and research being presented at the ACAAI Annual Scientific Meeting, follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI.


The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

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