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Allergy Shots Vs. Allergy Medications – What’s The Difference?

If you suffer from allergies, you know that there are different varieties of medications out there that can help you either prevent your allergy symptoms or alleviate them. Most allergists will tell you that you have the option of taking a regular allergy medication or having an allergy shot. So what’s the difference?

Learn the differences between allergy shots and allergy medications?Allergy Medications

There are different forms of allergy medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and steroids. Each one of these medications is beneficial to allergies in their own way.

Antihistamines, which you can have prescribed or purchase over the counter, are typically available in liquid or tablet form. This medication works as a preventative method to your allergy symptoms, and most doctors will recommend that you start taking your antihistamine about two weeks prior to the typical start of your allergy symptoms. Antihistamines work to help your body’s immune system fight off the histamine that is released during your allergies, and they can help to prevent stuffiness, congestion and itching. Antihistamines will not alleviate symptoms you already have.

Decongestants are also available in liquid or tablet form and are used to help alleviate congestion that occurs with allergies. Decongestants are used to cure the symptoms you already have and cannot be used as a preventative method, so if you are prone to having congestion during your allergies, you will need to take a decongestant in order to alleviate your symptoms.

Nasal sprays are used to treat nasal congestion, stuffiness and redness during your allergies. These are liquid and are shot into your nasal cavity in order to alleviate the symptoms you already have. While many people have found success with nasal sprays, they should not be overused, as too much can start to wear away the lining of your nasal cavity.

Steroids are a bit stronger than antihistamines but work in the same way. Steroids are used as a preventative method against steroids in order to combat stuffiness, redness and itching. Like antihistamines, steroids need to be taken about two weeks prior to your allergy season in order to start working, and it’s very important that you take steroids consistently in order for them to keep working.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are different than medications in that they’re given in shot form. If you receive immunotherapy, you will need to see an allergist to determine exactly what it is that you’re allergic to. The allergist will perform tests on you to find the cause of your allergies and to also find out how severe they may be.

Immunotherapy is typically given to individuals who suffer from severe allergy symptoms, such as intense rashes or shortness of breath, and those that suffer from allergies for at least three months out of the year. Immunotherapy is given by an allergist every two to four weeks, depending on the individual, and it is used to help build the body’s immune system to the specific allergens in order to work as a preventative. Most people who receive immunotherapy believe that it works better than other allergy medications.

Every allergy sufferer is different and requires different medications, so make sure that you talk with your allergist in order to determine the right treatment for you.

Andrew Klein is a health care professional and allergen specialist who often gives advice to others on the benefits of allergy shots.

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