Finding Seasonal Allergy Relief With Immunotherapy
September 22, 2023
Itchy, watery eyes. Runny nose. Sneezing. Seasonal allergies can make you miserable, and make it impossible to enjoy time outdoors.
When medications aren’t enough, immunotherapy – in the form of allergy shots – can provide much-needed relief from the most common allergy symptoms, says University Hospitals allergy and immunology specialist Samuel Friedlander, MD.
How Do Allergy Shots Work?
Seasonal or environmental allergies occur when the body overreacts to otherwise harmless substances in our environment, such as dust or pollen. Symptoms can include nasal congestion/runny nose, sneezing, cough, itchy, watery or red eyes, sore throat and fatigue. Allergies have a genetic component as well so you’re more likely to suffer if you have family members with allergies.
Allergy immunotherapy naturally boosts the immune system so the body is desensitized and does not react to the allergens. Dr. Friedlander says unlike other medications, allergy shots offers treatment that is individualized to each person.
“Allergy immunotherapy is natural because it use substances like purified grass pollen or dust to desensitize patients. And it’s specific because treatment is individualized to the allergens a patient reacts to,” explains Dr. Friedlander.
Allergy shots can help up to 90 percent of appropriate patients overcome their allergies, Dr. Friedlander notes.
What Kind of Allergies Can Immunotherapy Treat?
Allergy shots can be used to treat a host of allergy symptoms of the eyes and nose, asthma and allergic eczema, or atopic dermatitis. They can build immunity against common allergens such as:
- Dust mites
- Venom/bee stings
Who Should Consider Allergy Shots?
Dr. Friedlander recommends allergy immunotherapy for people whose symptoms are not well controlled with medication, who want to reduce their reliance on medication, or who want to try a more natural approach.
Allergy shots require patients to commit to weekly shots initially, and then monthly shots. Guidelines recommend a treatment course for three to five years for most individuals. This will help build long-term immunity to the allergens and reduce the need for allergy medications.
“Allergy symptoms can last years or decades. So allergy shots are a long-term solution to this problem and can improve quality of life,” says Dr. Friedlander.
A Safe and Effective Therapy
Before receiving immunotherapy for allergies you must first be diagnosed by an allergist. This is usually done through allergy skin testing, which can give results in about 15 minutes. If you are a candidate for allergy shots, your allergist will talk you through the process in detail and you can decide whether immunotherapy is right for you.
Dr. Friedlander notes that allergy shots have been used for decades and are safe and effective for treating seasonal allergies.
“Often, people feel miserable due to their allergies and have suffered for too long,” he says. “I’ve been impressed with the success I’ve seen over the years from allergy shots and the positive difference they can make in my patients’ well-being.”
Allergy and immunology specialists at University Hospitals provide the latest medical advancements in diagnostic and treatment options for both acute and chronic allergy conditions. Our board-certified allergy doctors offer highly specialized care for children and adults with allergies.