published Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Ask A Doctor: How do allergy shots work, and how effective are they?

Dr. Lee Perry

Q: I have tons of friends on allergy shots. I have horrible allergies in spring and fall. How do allergy shots work, and how effective are they?

A: Allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) are an extremely effective treatment for seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis. Prior to starting allergy shots, you should undergo skin testing by a board-certified allergist to determine what your allergic triggers are -- examples might include pollen, mold, house dust mite, pet dander or insect venom. After skin testing is complete, we are able to make a formula individualized to each patient's needs. This formula is administered in gradually increasing doses. Over time the immune system becomes less sensitive to the various allergens. Allergy shots have been shown in numerous scientific studies to be an effective treatment and potential cure for allergic rhinitis. Many patients are able to decrease or even eliminate their use of allergy medicines (antihistamines and nasal sprays).

-- Dr. Lee Perry, Chattanooga, Allergy Clinic; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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