Do Medications and Immunotherapy Work for Allergies?

Medicine as an Allergy Treatment

If you cannot avoid the allergens that are causing your allergy symptoms, medicines may be able to help you feel better. A number of different classes of medicines are available to treat allergies. Each class has several brand-name and generic versions available. Some of these medicines are available over-the-counter, while others require a prescription.
The different classes of medicines that can be used to help relieve allergies include:
  • Antihistamines
  • Nasal steroids
  • Decongestants
  • Combination medicines.
Cromolyn sodium is also available for the management of allergies.
(Click Allergy Medicine to learn more about each of these classes, as well as the specific medicines within each class.)

Treating Allergies With Shots

Immunotherapy, or a series of allergy shots, is the only allergy treatment available that has a chance of reducing your symptoms over a longer period of time. With this treatment, you would receive subcutaneous (under the skin) injections of increasing concentrations of the allergen(s) to which you are sensitive. These injections reduce the level of IgE antibodies in the blood and cause the body to make a protective antibody called IgG.
About 85 percent of people with allergic rhinitis will see their hay fever symptoms and need for medicines drop significantly within 12 months of starting immunotherapy. Those who benefit from this treatment may continue it for three years and then consider stopping. While many are able to stop the injections with good results lasting for several years, others see their symptoms get worse after the shots are stopped.
One research study showed that children receiving immunotherapy for their allergic rhinitis were less likely to develop asthma. However, these findings require additional research.
As researchers produce better allergens for immunotherapy, this approach will be become an even more effective allergy treatment.
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