Treatments are individualized based on severities and triggers. Treatments may include:
Medications can be a very effective mode of management for both recurrent allergy exposure and chronic allergies. However, there is still no known treatment for food allergies.
Oral antihistamines are available over-the-counter. Nasal steroid prescriptions can be effective to combat allergy symptoms. Nasal steroids work by a different mechanism than antihistamines, so the two are often prescribed together and act collectively to reduce allergy symptoms. Topical antihistamines require a prescription and have a great effect on allergies and can also be used for the constant, daily runny nose that often occurs with aging.
Patients sometimes make the mistake of stopping their allergy medications when they feel better. This often leads to a return of symptoms if the allergy exposure continues. It is best to consider these medications as chronic control and take them daily for best results. If you have a question about stopping your medications, call one of our allergy coordinators.
Allergy Shots & Oral Drops
Traditional allergy shots can now be replaced by sublingual desensitization, or allergy drops, placed under the tongue. Both modes of therapy actually attempt to change your immune system and reduce your sensitivity to the allergen so that an exposure is better tolerated. Allergy testing allows us to tell which agents are the reactive ones and at what level to begin a safe course of desensitization.
Injection Immunotherapy is the traditional allergy shot therapy for adapting your immune system to tolerate exposure to environmental allergens. Following allergy testing, a patient-specific vial is prepared based on both the type and level of sensitivity. Test doses are administered in the office to look for excess reactions and the dose is gradually built up under the careful observation of the allergy coordinator. Allergy injections must always be given in a medical office setting under the supervision of a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant. For your convenience, this can be set up for you at any of four convenient locations or at your primary care office. However, the initial dose must be administered at one of our offices.
Sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops placed under the tongue, is a safe and effective way of changing your immune system to tolerate exposure to environmental allergens. As with the shots, after allergy testing confirms which agents you are sensitive to, a starting solution is prepared by our allergy coordinator for administration under the tongue. The dose is increased on later mixes until a therapeutic level is reached. Reactions to the allergy drop mixture are less common than allergy shots and can safely be done at home. Although the mixture is not often covered by insurance, the overall cost of the vial is usually less than the total co-payments needed for shot therapy. There is also less time required for trips to the office.
Once we determine you are allergic to a particular item, it is best to avoid contact with the agent. This is particularly important if the reaction is severe and causes swelling of the face, tongue or throat. This type of reaction is more often seen with food allergies such as nuts and shellfish, and also sometimes with insect venom exposures such as bee stings. Pollen and other environmental exposures rarely cause severe and life threatening reactions, but can cause coughing, asthma, a runny nose and congestion. Therefore, avoiding these agents may be helpful in your allergy management.