Allergy testing and allergy shots/drops (Immunotherapy) are great options for people who have allergies difficult to treat with pills, nasal sprays, and/or eye drops.
One of the best ways to see what you are allergic to is through skin testing. This type of testing involves placing on the skin tiny amounts of common substances that cause allergies. These substances are call Allergens. In about 20 minutes, if you are allergic to them, your skin will become red and swollen where the Allergen(s) were placed. In this way we can tell the source of your allergy.
Skin testing is for children greater than age 6 months.
After having the skin testing, we can tailor allergy shots or drops to match to your allergy.
The shots and sublingual drops/tablets are given for 3-5 years. After this period 85-90% of people are either cured from their allergies or they only need an over the counter Allergy medicine to get the relief they need. Rarely though, some people do find that they need to be on the shots/drops lifelong in order to be free from allergy symptoms.
Allergy shots involve injecting tiny amounts of the Allergen(s) you are allergic too just under the skin of your upper arm. The shots are first given once a week for a year and then after that they are given every 2 weeks for the next 2-4 years.
The Allergy drops involve placing liquid drops of the Allergen(s) under your tongue, once daily. This can be done at home, rather than at the clinic. There are also once daily tablets that dissolve under the tongue for people allergic to grass and ragweed.
The amount of the Allergen injected in the arm or placed under the tongue is at first very tiny, and then it is progressively increased with subsequent doses. By starting with a small amount, and then increasing it, your body becomes immune to the Allergen and no longer reacts to it with allergic symptoms.
Some people start to notice an improvement in their allergies right away, but the majority of people start to see in an improvement in 2-3 months. Therefore, it is wise to start the allergy shots 2-3 months before the worst season of the year for your allergies.
Allergy shots work best for the following allergy symptoms:
-Itchy Red Eyes
-Allergy Induced Asthma
-Allergic, Life-threatening reactions to bees and wasps
Allergy Shots or drops can be given to children older than 5.
Allergy Shots/drops cannot be given for food allergies.
Shots vs Sublingual Drops:
-Insurance covers Allergy shots and sublingual tablets, but not Allergy liquid drops.
-There is more inconvenience with the allergy shots, which require regular visits to the doctor’s office.
-Sublingual drops can be done at home. However, drops must be taken daily, and they are less effective if doses are frequently missed.
-Severe adverse reactions to Allergy shots are very rare, but they are even rarer with Sublingual drops.
David Beckstead, MD
Canyon View Family Medicine