Allergy experts agree there are three key ways to treat nasal allergies:
- avoiding what triggers allergy symptoms
- taking medication to prevent or relieve the allergy symptoms
- taking allergy shots (immunotherapy) to reduce your sensitivity to triggers
When choosing an allergy treatment, ask your doctor these questions:
- What are my chances of getting better?
- What are the risks and side effects of this allergy treatment?
- What will this allergy treatment cost?
Most experts agree that avoiding or reducing your exposure to allergens is the best way to treat nasal allergies and eliminate allergy symptoms such as sneezing and a runny or stuffy nose. If you can avoid allergy symptoms entirely by not being around allergens, then you won't need allergy medications. And that means you avoid the side effects of allergy medications.
Sometimes it isn't possible to avoid allergens. When that's the case, you do have other options for treating your allergies. One is to take allergy medications.
Allergy medications won't cure your nasal allergies. Nor will they completely stop an allergic reaction. They will, however, relieve and sometimes prevent allergy symptoms. Your doctor can help by prescribing allergy medications and/or recommending over-the-counter allergy medications to help control your allergy symptoms. For most people with nasal allergies, the combination of avoiding allergens and taking allergy medication is enough to control allergy symptoms.
The next option is immunotherapy. This involves a series of allergy shots that make you less sensitive to allergens, the substances that cause allergic reactions. Sometimes you can't avoid allergens. For instance, you may be allergic to a much-beloved pet. And sometimes you don't want to constantly take allergy medications. In these cases, allergy shots may be right for you. Keep in mind, allergy shots require many trips to the doctor's office and involve multiple shots or injections over several years. There is also some small risk of a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. Also, immunotherapy treatment doesn't work for everyone.
For more information about treatment results and other health considerations, see the next page.