Can allergy medicines suddenly stop working? I hear this all the time from my patients. They'll tell me that the "developed an immunity" to a certain medicine, and after a period of time -- say months to years -- the allergy medicine simply stops working, and they need to change to another medicine. Could this actually happen? Possibly. We know that in pharmacology, certain medicines, when overused, can stop working as well since the body will start making less of the receptor for that medicine. For example, this is exactly what happens with the overuse of albuterol for the treatment of asthma. However, I don't know of any science behind why other allergy medicines, such as antihistamines and nasal sprays,†stop working.
Recent surveys do show that both adults and children experience the loss of effectiveness of allergy medicines. Nearly 2 out of every 3 adults report that they have stopped an allergy medicine in the past because it stopped working, typically within a matter of months. And, nearly 20% of adults report changing allergy medicines in the past year because the medicine stopped working. Children seem to experience a loss of effectiveness of allergy medicines as well, with nearly 10% changing allergy medicines within the past year, and more than 1 in 4 children needing to change nasal sprays regularly because of the benefit "wearing off".
So, do people actually develop an "immunity" to allergy medicines as a reason why the medicines stop working? It's doubtful, in my opinion. But there's no doubt that people seem to think that the allergy medicine loses its effectiveness, for whatever reason, which results in the need to try something else.
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