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Posted on: December 16, 2016

With winter here, allergy sufferers can heave a collective sigh of relief as their allergies to pollen and other common outdoor allergens become limited. But, when spring comes around and flowers bloom and trees sprout leaves, outdoor allergies come back and many allergy sufferers long for winter to start again.

It needn’t be that way, though, as effective treatments are available.

An allergy is a reaction of your immune system to a foreign substance. It can be pollen, dander from pets, like dogs and cats, to different types of food. When an allergic reaction occurs, it is because your immune system manufacturers substances called antibodies that respond to a substance called an allergen. The antibodies produced attack the allergen that your immune system reacts to, as it has identified them as harmful – even though the immune system is mistaken. When your immune system makes antibodies, your body may have a reaction that inflames your skin, your airways, or your digestive system.

Allergy Treatment

There are tools that are available to lessen and even eliminate allergies – but for some allergies, the best way to control them is by avoidance. Other methods include nasal sprays, skin creams, eye drops, allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots) and oral medication. This post identifies the benefits and disadvantages of immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Benefits of Allergy Immunotherapy

When oral medication and/or avoidance of allergens fail to control a patient’s allergic reaction, allergy, shots also known as immunotherapy or allergy desensitization therapy, may be the solution. There are several benefits for patients who get allergy shots and they include:

  • Some people don’t tolerate oral medications well. These patients might do better with allergy shots so long as needles and injections do not bother the individual. Though shots are taken on a weekly schedule that becomes monthly, after three to five years the shots may be ended when the response is permanent.
  • While the cost of allergy shots is more expensive than oral over-the-counter medication, in the long run, allergy shots are less expensive than oral medications as patients do not need shots forever.
  • Allergy medications taken by mouth treat the symptoms of allergies, but, allergy shots treat the causes of allergic responses. When immunotherapy is successful, patients enjoy a complete cure as the shots treat the underlying causes of allergies rather than the symptoms.

Disadvantages of Allergy Immunotherapy

As with all types of medical procedures and treatments, allergy desensitization has some drawbacks. Following are some of the more common disadvantages of allergy shots:

  • Immunotherapy does not work on every type of allergy. It is true that shots work well for common allergies such as pet dander, pollen, dust, and other pollutants found in the home. Shots are ineffective for treating food allergies and urticaria. Urticaria causes chronic hives related to an underlying disease such as hyperthyroidism or lupus. In addition, insect venom allergies such as bee stings or spider bites cannot be prevented by allergy shots.
  • Some patients have a reaction that shows up as redness, swelling, and tenderness at the injection site. However, injection site reactions usually last just one day.
  • Occasionally, certain patients balk at the time commitment needed for successful allergy prevention. Missing appointments can delay or derail relief from allergies.
  • Allergy shots can worsen allergy symptoms at first when the injection regimen starts.
  • Since allergy shots rarely cause anaphylaxis, patients must wait in their physician’s office for 30 minutes until the danger of anaphylaxis passes.

For more information about allergy treatment and prevention contact any of the 11 Charlotte, NC offices of the Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center. The offices are staffed allergists that are board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. Get in touch with us today to schedule your appointment.