A Faster Allergy Fix

The quickest way to end annoying seasonal sniffles

by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel
allergy shot needle picture
Photograph: Levi Brown

If you’re one of the growing number of women who’ve developed adult-onset allergies and want to stop the symptoms as quickly as they started, consider an accelerated approach to allergy shots called rush immunotherapy. How much faster is the newer technique? Traditional immunotherapy is a five- to 12-month project: Over that time, the patient’s tolerance of allergens such as tree pollen is bolstered via increasingly large doses of the substances. By contrast, rush immunotherapy substantially reduces symptoms in one to three days. During the process, an allergist pretreats a sensitive person with steroids and antihistamines to reduce potential negative reactions, then delivers multiple doses of allergy shots during each day of treatment, all the while closely monitoring the patient, says Richard Weber, MD, president-elect of the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunotherapy. This is typically followed by a maintenance phase, in which your tolerance to allergens is preserved by regular shots (weekly during allergy season, monthly the rest of the year). With both regular and rush therapy, this phase can last several years. The newer therapy is usually covered by insurance, and because you get multiple shots on a single day, you save money on copays.

Next: Surprising Allergy Triggers in Your Home

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Originally published in the April 2012 issue

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