Black, Hispanic Patients With Severe Allergies Less Likely to Get Allergy Shots

MONDAY, April 10, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Seasonal allergies are more common among Black and Hispanic people, but these patients are less likely to get the shots that could ease their symptoms, researchers say.

“We already know that these underrepresented populations are more likely to suffer from allergic rhinitis [hay fever],” said researcher Dr. Sunjay Modi, a fellow in pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in Hershey, Pa.

“The fact that those with severe symptoms are also less likely to receive a therapy that might help with symptom management is troublesome and highlights the need for increased access to this treatment,” Modi added.

The new study led by Modi said that discovering why this happens and developing solutions to close the gap could help patients get relief from symptoms including runny nose, congestion, post-nasal drip, sinus pain, and itchy and watery eyes.

One possible explanation: Black and Hispanic patients may be less likely than their white counterparts to be referred to an allergist. They may also have trouble accessing the shots, called subcutaneous allergen immunotherapy (SCIT), because of the time and money involved.

For the study, the investigators looked at data from more than 900,000 patients diagnosed with allergic rhinitis.

The data included race, ethnicity, sex, age and co-occurring allergic conditions. The researchers evaluated how likely patients were to receive SCIT based on their race and ethnicity.

Black patients with allergic rhinitis were 60% less likely to be prescribed SCIT than white patients, the study found. Hispanic patients were 20% less likely to receive the therapy.

About 1 in 6 Americans has allergic rhinitis, with allergies to pet dander, dust mites or pollens from trees, grasses or weeds.

Most are able to manage these common allergies with over-the-counter medications. SCIT is often prescribed for those with severe allergies.

“Medical professionals have a responsibility to help our patients receive optimal care for their ailments so they can have a high quality of life,” Modi said in a Penn State news release. “Understanding the root causes and developing solutions for this health disparity is essential for helping underserved populations get the allergy treatment they need.”

The findings were recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

More information

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has more on allergic rhinitis, sometimes called hay fever.

SOURCE: Penn State College of Medicine, news release, April 6, 2023

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