The treatment for your allergy will depend on its causes and the type, frequency and severity of your symptoms. The allergist will work with you to decide the best approach. Among the options for treating allergy are avoiding or reducing your exposure to an allergen, taking medicine to control allergy symptoms or having allergy shots to build the body's resistance to allergens.
When medications fail to adequately control allergy symptoms and avoidance of the trigger is not easy or possible, an allergist may recommend immunotherapy or “allergy shots”. This treatment consists of a series of injections containing small amounts of the substances to which a person is allergic. After a course of allergy shots, 80 to 90 percent of patients have less allergy symptoms, and in many cases their allergies have completely resolved. Allergy shots can be given for allergic rhino-conjunctivitis (nose and eyes), allergic asthma and insect sting allergies.
How do Allergy Shots work?
Unlike allergy medicines, which act only to “cover up” allergic symptoms or prevent them temporarily, allergy shots fix the underlying problem of allergies. This occurs because the body treats the injection much like a vaccine, resulting in the production of infection-fighting antibodies against the pollen, dust, mold or pet dander. The body then stops producing as much allergic antibodies against the triggers, and therefore won’t have as much, or any, allergic response when exposed to the allergens. These changes can last for many years even after stopping allergy shots. Recent studies show that allergy shots can also prevent people from developing new allergies, and reduce the risk of developing asthma in children with nasal allergies.
Allergy Shots offer the only potential cure for allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma and venom allergy. Unlike medications that simply cover up allergic symptoms, allergy shots are the only therapy to change how a person’s body deals with allergies. You would think, therefore, that everyone would want to do allergy shots. Unfortunately, allergy shots can be inconvenient for many people because they involve a significant time commitment (typically going to the allergist’s office once to twice a week initially), and may take months before they start working.