Red eyes, constant sneezing, a cough that won’t let up. If you suffer from allergies, you’re very familiar with these symptoms. Allergy treatment is available, but for many it means taking an antihistamine or allergy pill on a regular basis, at least when an allergen is likely to be present. Some people choose to muddle through their days because they don’t like the side effects of allergy medicines.
That doesn’t have to be you. Long-lasting, permanent allergy treatment is available and is effective for many people. If every summer you find yourself sneezing and coughing the days away, it might be time to learn more about long-term allergy treatment options.
Before you can treat your allergies, you need to figure out what exactly is causing your allergic reactions. Allergy testing is typically a two-step process. During the first phase, the doctor will scratch a small amount of a possible allergen into your skin. This type of test is often performed using indoor and outdoor allergens, as well as airborne allergens. If your skin reacts to the allergen, for example if it swells or turns red, you are allergic to that substance.
The second phase of allergy testing involves injecting a small amount of various allergens into the arm, just beneath the skin. This type of test is often used for food allergies, but can be used for other allergens as well.
No matter which type of allergy test you have, the results usually appear quickly. In many cases, if you are allergic, you’ll see a reaction within about 20 minutes. Some people do have a delayed reaction and don’t see any changes, such as swelling or redness, until several hours or even up to 48 hours after the test.
What Permanent Allergy Treatment Involves
It’s important to understand that allergies can’t exactly be cured. But, a treatment known as immunotherapy, or allergy shots, can help prevent symptoms from occurring for the long term. Immunotherapy involves injecting a small amount of the allergen into your body. The tiny amount of the allergen stimulates your immune system, so that it produces blocking antibodies in reaction to the allergen. But, the shots don’t contain enough of any one allergen to actually trigger an allergic reaction.
Usually, you start out receiving the shots once a week. Over time, the strength of the shots is increased until you reach a point where you’re receiving the highest possible dose. Gradually increasing the concentration of allergens in the shot allows you body to develop a tolerance to that allergen.
People receiving immunotherapy are usually able to gradually stop taking their allergy pills or sprays over the course of their treatment. The length of immunotherapy varies from patient to patient. It’s common for people to receive a single shot once a week, for about a year. Some people continue to receive regular shots, but at the least frequent intervals, for several years after they start treatment.
Benefits of Allergy Treatment
Admittedly, the idea of getting a shot or injection once a week for a year or longer doesn’t exactly appeal to most people. But the results and benefits of permanent allergy treatment are often worth enduring a shot on a regular basis. For one thing, immunotherapy can eliminate the need to take certain allergy medicines. That can be good news for people who become drowsy or have other unpleasant side effects when they take allergy medications.
The shots can also actually help treat allergies in people who don’t respond well to medicines or other treatments. Not everyone sees their symptoms ease up when they take an allergy pill or use a spray. Immunotherapy offers an effective treatment option for such people.
In some cases, allergic reactions to certain substances can increase a person’s risk for developing chronic sinus infections or other sinus problems. If not treated quickly enough or if ignored, constant allergies can block the sinuses and increase the risk for ongoing infection. Immunotherapy reduces allergy-related symptoms so much that any problems a person has with his or her sinuses also resolves. People who have had sinus surgery are able to better enjoy the results and benefits of the surgery if they also undergo immunotherapy to control their allergies.
It’s worth noting that immunotherapy only helps treat certain types of allergies, usually seasonal allergens, mold and other airborne allergens. It’s not used to treat or prevent food allergies, for example. If a person is found to be allergic to a food, the best way to cope with it is to avoid any exposure to that food.
About Dr. Rubinstein
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience helping patients cope with allergies and sinus problems in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allow him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about your permanent allergy treatment options and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center, call 845-562-6673.