(WZZM) - There's some good news for people with allergies. The Food and Drug Administration just approved a new medication for people with hay fever caused by certain grass pollen.
It's called Oralair and it acts like an allergy shot. It contains a mixture of freeze-dried extracts from the pollen of five grasses. They include Kentucky Bluegrass, Orchard, Perennial Rye, Sweet Vernal and Timothy.
You place the tablet under your tongue and let it dissolve. The FDA says this is the first of its kind allergy treatment approved in the United States.
"The big advance that has been achieved with this approval is that we now have a more convenient form of allergen immunotherapy to offer patients who are allergic to grass pollen," said Dr. David Lang with the Cleveland Clinic.
"The approval of Oralair provides an alternative to allergy shots that must be given in a health care provider's office," said Dr. Karen Midthun of the FDA.
Studies done in the United States and Europe showed those who took the tablet had a 16 to 30 percent drop in allergy symptoms and less of a need for allergy medicines.
Oralair is a once a day tablet. Patients would start the treatment at least four weeks before the peak of hay fever season, which is generally in late May.
A doctor gives the first dose in their office so they can monitor a patient for any side effects. After that, all of the doses can be taken at home.
"It can be administered co-seasonally or it can be administered year-round as do allergy shots to reduce the level of allergic potential that you have," said Dr. Lang.
The most common side effects in adults, according to the FDA, include itching in the ears, mouth and tongue. Also, swelling of the mouth and throat irritation. In children, the most common side effects were itching and swelling in the mouth as well as an irritated throat.
Right now, there's no word on when the tablet will be available to patients.
Grass allergies are the most common seasonal allergies in the United States. While there is no cure, they can be managed through treatments like allergy shots and avoiding exposure altogether.