Allergy Treatment

Are over the counter allergy medicines as effective as prescription medication?

Many over the counter (OTC) medications are very effective for allergies. As a matter of fact, many allergy medications, especially antihistamines, which were previously available only by prescription, are now available OTC. Many of the OTC eyes drops for itchy, watery, red eyes are also very effective.

Are there any side effects to allergy shots?

There are two potential side effects to an allergy injection. The most common is a local area of redness and swelling at the injection site which can occur within a few minutes or may be delayed for several hours. These reactions, although sometimes uncomfortable, are generally not dangerous. Local reactions are generally treated with a cold pack and they are usually self-limited.

Albeit rare, an allergy injection can precipitate a systemic reaction resulting in nasal symptoms, itching, hives, and difficulty breathing. It is for this unlikely event that all patients need to wait in a medical facility for at least 20 minutes after an allergy shot.

Can I give allergy shots to myself?

No! Although rare, an allergy shot can result in a serious allergic reaction, and it is therefore necessary that all allergy shots be given in a medical facility equipped to treat an allergic emergency. It is also critically important that one wait in the physician’s office for at least 20 minutes after receiving an allergy shot.

Can I Take Allergy Shots for Bee Stings?

Absolutely. As a matter of fact, of all of the types of immunotherapy offered for the treatment of allergic diseases, venom immunotherapy for stinging insects has the best measurable results. It is “curative” in the vast majority of cases.

Do Allergy Shots Work for Large Local Swellings from Insect Stings?

Venom immunotherapy (allergy shots) for stinging insects does not work well for large local reactions.  Treating the sting locally with ice, elevation, and oral antihistamines is the best initial therapy.

How long does one take allergy shots?

The generally accepted optimal duration for allergy shots, or immunotherapy, is 3-5 years. Recommendations will vary according to one’s diagnosis and clinical course. Duration of treatment will also vary among allergists.

How often does one take allergy shots?

This varies among allergists, but in general, they are given more frequently during the initial build-up phase. Then the injections are given less frequently the longer one is on the program. For example, a common immunotherapy schedule generally recommended is as follows: Twice weekly for the first three months (build up phase), weekly for the remained of the first year (nine months), then every other week for six months, then every third week for six months, the once a month for the duration of therapy. No recommendations are set in stone and a schedule can be modified for a given patient.

What are allergy drops?

Allergy drops, also called sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT, are an alternative to allergy injections. This form of treatment, used in Europe for decades, is becoming more popular among allergists here in the U.S.. SLIT is administered by placing the allergy extract under the tongue as opposed to injecting it. Medical studies suggests that it is safe and effective, but research is ongoing presently in order to establish the optimal dose. This form of treatment is not presently FDA approved and its use, although legal, is considered off-label.

What is the Best Moisturizer to Use for Skin Allergies or Eczema?

Over the counter moisterizers with the least amount of perfumes or additives are generally recommended.  One should avoid Vitamin E and Aloe as these can also be irritating to the skin over time.  Eucerin, Aquafor and Cetaphil work well as moisterizers and are well tolerated in patients with sensitive skin.

What is the best nose spray for allergies?

The most common prescription nose spray for allergies are nasal steroid sprays (e.g.  Flonase, Nasonex, or Nasacort AQ).  These work well if used every day and are safe to use for seasonal or year round allergies.  Other prescription sprays include nasal antihistamines, such as Astelin or Astepro. These work well on a as needed basis.


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