How Do You Treat Allergies?
The first step in treating allergies is an accurate diagnosis. The allergy specialists at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma are experts in identifying what is causing your symptoms and recommending a treatment plan that will significantly improve your life.
There are a number of excellent treatment options available for people who suffer from seasonal and year-round allergies. For some, medications may work but they only treat the symptoms. Another option, allergy immunotherapy, is the only curative, or disease modifying treatment for allergy sufferers. There are three types of allergy immunotherapy:
Allergy shots are a series of injections that help control and reduce allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are not a medication, but rather a natural approach to increasing your tolerance towards what you are allergic to.
How Do Allergy Shots Work?
Allergy shots work by injecting trace amounts of the allergens that are causing your allergic symptoms. By gradually increasing the doses of your allergy extract, your body develops an immunity and/or tolerance, thereby reducing or even eliminating your allergic symptoms.
Allergy Shots occur in two phases:
- Build-up Phase: Involves a routine series of injections with increasing amounts of allergens. Frequency of injections generally ranges from one to two times a week with an average duration of three to six months.
- Maintenance Phase: Begins when the effective allergy extract dosage is reached, and the body begins to increase its tolerance. Patients transition to treatments whose frequency ranges from every one to four weeks. For some patients there are options for reaching the Maintenance Phase sooner. Speak with your allergist to see if you are a candidate for Cluster Build or Rush.
For most patients, no appointment is necessary to receive allergy shots. However, we do require you to remain in the office for 30 minutes after receiving your shot to make sure you experience no adverse reactions.
Are Allergy Shots Effective?
Immunotherapy is the only disease modifying and potentially curative allergy treatment. Research demonstrates that allergy shots significantly reduce health care use and costs among children and adults with allergic rhinitis (hay fever). The National Institute of Health reports that 85% of people with allergic rhinitis will benefit from allergy shots within the first year, lessening their symptoms and need for medication. Additional research shows that children receiving allergy shots are less likely to develop asthma.
Allergy drops sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), are a series of liquid drops placed underneath the tongue containing traces of your specific allergens. By gradually introducing these allergens into your system, your body develops an immunity or tolerance to your allergic triggers. Clinical research shows that allergy drops may not be as effective as allergy shots and present challenges to patients who are allergic to multiple items. However, they do work and can be very helpful for certain types of allergy patients.
Although allergy drops have been used in Europe for years and are completely legal in the U.S., at this time they are not yet approved by the FDA and are considered an investigational therapy. Since they are not approved by the FDA, insurance companies are not currently reimbursing for this treatment.
Allergy tablets are another form of oral immunotherapy and have recently been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. Similarly to allergy drops, these fast dissolving tablets are placed under the tongue and work to help the body build tolerance to allergens through consistent exposure. They may be indicated for patients with specific sensitivities, like ragweed pollen, grass and dust mites.
Speak with your board-certified allergy specialist at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma to determine what treatment option is best for you.