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Allergy Shots vs. Over-the-Counter Treatments

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More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Whether you experience sniffles and sneezes when the pollen levels rise or anaphylaxis from a bee sting, allergies are more than an inconvenience. 

Allergy treatments can range from more permanent interventions like immunotherapy—the closest thing to an allergy cure—to over-the-counter (OTC) treatment options or simple allergen avoidance practices. With so many options, choosing your ideal allergy treatment may seem complicated. Luckily, you’re not alone in decision-making. Our board-certified allergists are here to guide you every step of the way.

OTC Allergy Medications

Those seeking OTC allergy medications have several choices, with most working to reduce inflammation and swelling caused by allergies. The most common over-the-counter treatments include:

  • Long-acting oral antihistamines 
  • Antihistamine eye drops
  • Nasal steroid sprays 

Oftentimes, patients choose OTC medications to treat allergies because they provide a quick solution to the misery of allergy symptoms. In addition, many OTC medications do effectively reduce allergy symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing and congestion. 

However, the relief from OTC medication is short-term, with the medication’s effects only lasting 24-hours at a time and symptoms often reappearing before you can take your next dose. Additionally, OTC medications only treat your allergic symptoms and never truly address the root cause feeding the perpetual cycle of allergies. 

Allergy Shots

Most experts agree that allergy shots, or allergy immunotherapy, are the most effective way to find long-term relief from allergy symptoms. 

Allergy shot treatments are tailor-made based on your allergy test results. Your board-certified allergist will work closely with you to customize a treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.

Patients receiving allergy shots get injections of their allergens in increasing doses over time. The patient becomes progressively desensitized to their trigger through controlled exposure to the allergens until their body becomes tolerant to the allergen altogether. 

Common triggers that benefit from allergy shots include:

  • Pollen
  • Pets
  • Dust mites
  • Mold spores
  • Stinging venomous insects

While there is no cure for allergies, immunotherapy comes as close as possible by effectively training your body’s immune response to no longer react to allergens. 

Are allergy shots right for you?

While the advantages of allergy shots are clear, you may still wonder if immunotherapy is the right solution for you. If you are on the fence about receiving immunotherapy treatment, consider the following: 

  • Are your allergy triggers in the list above?
  • Do your allergy symptoms impact daily activities?
  • Do you experience allergies for more than three of 12 months a year?
  • Have you tried other treatments and found them lacking?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or are ready to find allergy relief, Charleston Allergy and Asthma is ready to help! Visit our website to learn more about our immunotherapy services, and contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our board-certified allergists.

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