Reviewed by Sanny Chan, MD, PhD

Medications

Learn answers to frequently asked questions about allergy medications.

 

Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)

Question: If you have allergies to oak, grass, weeds, mold, etc. would you recommend taking Claritin® all year? This is what has been recommended to me, and I wanted your thought on this.

Answer: There are various brands of antihistamines that are available, including non-sedating ones that are available over the counter. Some more effective nasal medications also provided relief. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are an alternative to antihistamine therapy in people with multiple allergies and nasal symptoms (rhinitis). The use of medications may be required for both year-round and seasonal nasal symptoms. A discussion with your care provider will help to put together a comprehensive treatment strategy personalized for your lifestyle.


Question: I am extremely allergic to grass, tree, weed pollen, mold, dust mites, dogs and cats. I avoid the latter animals, but this season is so intense with pollen that nothing I take lasts for more than 4 or 5 hours. I can't even go outside of my house without a mask, which doesn't help much, and within minutes my eyes, nose and asthma kick in. I've tried taking lots of different antihistamines in high doses, but they tend to make me very drowsy. Also, I don't like having to take so much medicine all of the time. Any ideas?

Answer: Allergy shots (immunotherapy) may be the treatment option for you to help with such numerous and severe allergies. This therapy may help you avoid some of the side effects that you describe from the medicines.

 

Question: I am 30 years old and have been suffering from allergies for 10 years. All the medicines I have tried over the years have failed to control it. Are there any alternatives?

Answer: An important key step is to be evaluated by a trained allergist to identify what may be causing your allergic reactions to see if those can be avoided. Besides medication, hay fever and nasal symptoms can also be effectively treated with allergy shots (allergy immunotherapy). This kind of treatment is very often effective and it initially requires weekly shots slowly spaced out to monthly. However, this mode of treatment is the only one available that could cure allergies.

 

Question: I am considering allergy shots for my daughter and was wondering if this will lead to her taking less medicine (Advair®, Clarinex®, Flonase®, Singulair®).

Answer: If the allergy immunotherapy is used properly, use of less asthma medicines should result. This works especially well in children and young adults. Allergy shots have been shown to reduce the future sensitizations. There are important considerations to think about and discuss during an in-depth conversation with her and your allergist.

 

Question: Are allergy shots (immunotherapy) relatively safe? This is one of the reasons I have held off giving them to my daughter, who is 14. Her doctor has recommended them, but the anaphylactic risk scares me.

Answer: There is some risk to allergy shots when done with proper dosing of allergens. These risks are minimized by proper observation after injections (in the doctor's office). This type of treatment is indicated and usually well tolerated for an otherwise healthy 14-year-old adolescent, and they usually respond well. If she is only sensitized to specific grass or ragweed, she may benefit from sublingual therapy that avoids shots. Targeted precise tailored therapy is critical to optimizing her chances for a staying on therapy and a good outcome.

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