Spring has arrived and if you have seasonal allergies, you were probably aware of this well before the rest of us, as pollen counts in our area started rising in February. With warmer weather, many are looking forward to spending more time outside to enjoy the beauty of springtime in the DMV. However, for those with spring allergies, spending time outside isn’t always pleasant, but it doesn’t have to be that way, let’s talk about allergen immunotherapy.
Many allergy sufferers are well-acquainted with the allergy section of their pharmacy. There are many choices to help relieve itchy eyes, runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, and cough. But what do you do if you have tried all these treatments and they do not work for you? Or if you have side effects from the medicines? Or if you want more than to just treat symptoms, but you want to treat the underlying issue? Talk to your allergist about allergen immunotherapy.
Allergen immunotherapy, also known as, “allergy shots” is a treatment that focuses on the underlying cause of your symptoms. It has been in use for over 100 years and works well as a personalized treatment option for many allergy sufferers. It works by exposing the immune system to small amounts of what a person is allergic to, known as an allergen. Allergens include pollens, molds, dust, and animal dander. This process actually changes how sensitive the body is to certain allergens. Over time, the body gets used to the allergen and does not react in the same way it did when it was previously exposed to the same allergen. For example, if you are allergic to oak trees and cats, your allergen immunotherapy would include these specific allergens and make you less likely to have itchy eyes, sneeze, or have a runny nose when you are around oak trees or cats. Allergen immunotherapy is usually given in an injection, but it is also available in a form that can be taken by mouth for some allergens.
If you want better control of your allergies, consider asking your allergist if allergen immunotherapy is right for you.
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