The days are getting longer, weather is getting warmer and everything is in bloom – including your allergies. If you suffer from seasonal or year-round allergies, springtime may have you looking for the best remedy to help you relieve your allergy symptoms.
“If you experience moderate to severe allergy symptoms, and are not responding well to typical treatments, it might be time for you to consider allergy shots,” says Kelly Allred Metz MD, an allergist with Group Health.
Do I Have Allergies?
If you suffer from allergy symptoms throughout the year, including itchy eyes, running nose and sneezing, there is a good chance you suffer from either indoor or outdoor allergies. “The first thing I need to do when I see a patient is see if they actually have allergies,” Dr. Metz says. “Not everyone is allergic when they think they are.”
A typical allergy test involves skin testing, where your skin is exposed to potential allergens, and the doctor then looks for an allergic reaction. By determining whether you are allergic to indoor allergens, outdoor allergens, or both, helps your doctor tailor a treatment plan to you, as well as helps determine avoidance measures to decrease your exposure to the specific allergen(s).
Allergy Relief: Treatment Options
Once it is determined that you have allergies, if you are not responding to typical treatment methods, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, you might be a good candidate for allergy shots.
Allergy shots are administered by your doctor, and are recommended for three to five years. Initially, you receive one to two shots a week for six to seven months. You then receive a shot every other week, and eventually will be on a maintenance shot once a month.
What if I Stop Getting Regular Shots?
“If you get allergy shots for a year, and then stop, here is no harm, but you will likely resensitize to the allergen, and be allergic again pretty quickly.” Dr. Metz says.
While receiving allergy shots does not make you immune to allergens, it does desensitize you to specific allergens that cause you to have a reaction. By regularly exposing yourself to the allergen, you increase your chances of desensitization.