Good allergy treatment is based on the results of your allergy tests, your medical history, and the severity of your symptoms. Reducing/avoiding exposure to allergens, taking medication in case of an attack or becoming desensitized (allergy shots): these are the main solutions at your disposal.
Reducing/avoiding exposure to allergens
Measures to evict allergens are generally the first step in the fight against the symptoms of allergy: by eliminating as far as possible contact with the allergen, the onset of symptoms is limited. With many allergens, particularly those in the air or environment, it is impossible to stop allergen exposure altogether. Hopefully, avoidance techniques can improve symptoms, but medicines are often needed (especially with eczema, atopic asthma and hay fever) to provide symptom control.
Prescribed as a first line treatment, they reduce the severity of symptoms, as and when they occur, without however “curing” the allergy.
Using treatments as prescribed can show a huge change in a patient's health, mood and development once the medication or treatment routine is working to control the symptoms. Improvements are seen because the treatment prevents the allergy symptoms from starting, or reduces the severity of the symptoms.
Antihistamines and decongestants are the most common medicines used for allergies. Antihistamines help relieve rashes and hives, as well as sneezing, itching, and runny nose. Decongestant pills, sprays, and nose drops reduce stuffiness by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose.
It is the only treatment of the “cause” of the allergy. When it is not possible to avoid your allergens and treatment with medications alone does not solve the problem, Allergen Immunotherapy can often prevent allergy symptoms. It involves giving a person increasingly higher doses of their allergen overtime.
The aim: to restore the balance of the immune system so that it recovers a normal reaction to allergens.
This can be effective for some people with hay fever, certain animal allergies, and insect stings. It is usually not effective for allergies to food, drugs, or feathers, nor is it effective for hives or eczema.
Subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT)
Subcutaneous immunotherapy is the most common type of immunotherapy treatment, and involves giving an injection to the patient containing the allergen to which they are sensitised. The injections are usually given as a course of injections of purified allergen extracts, under the skin of the upper arm.
In the beginning (induction phase), injections will be given at intervals of a week or less, while allergen doses are gradually increased. Once on the maintenance dose, you will be asked to continue attending for injections every few weeks for at least 2 years.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an alternative way to treat allergies without injections. Allergists give patients small doses of an allergen under the tongue to boost tolerance to the substance and reduce symptoms. SLIT is relatively safe and effective for the treatment of rhinitis and asthma caused by allergies to dust mites, grass, ragweed, cat dander, and tree pollens.