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    Blocking Allergy Symptoms: How Pretreatment Works

    Tackle allergies before they start, and you could be breathing a lot easier.

    Preventing Allergy Symptoms: Environmental Control and Allergy Shots continued...

    “I think too many allergists don’t bother talking to patients about environmental control,” says Bernstein. “They don’t give their patients enough credit and just prescribe them medicines.” Bernstein says that environmental control should be a crucial part of treatment.

    Don’t wait until after allergy symptoms start before making changes to your environment and behavior. As the pollen season approaches, get in the habit of keeping your windows closed. In the spring, install your air conditioners early, since they’re ideal for filtering the outside air that comes into your home.

    While most allergy treatments are only temporary fixes, allergy shots -- or immunotherapy -- can offer a more or less permanent solution. By exposing your body to regular, small doses of an allergen -- by injections under the skin -- your immune system can learn to cope without triggering an allergic reaction. Gradually, the doses are increased. Eventually -- and in most cases -- even a large amount of the allergen won’t cause allergy symptoms.

    Allergy shots aren’t for everyone. They’re only recommended for people who have allergies more than three months of the year. And they’re not a quick fix, requiring months of injections. But if you’re a good candidate medically and have the willpower, they can be life-changing.

    “In correctly chosen patients, the success rate of immunotherapy is over 95%,” says Pramod S. Kelkar, MD, chair of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology’s Cough Taskforce.

    Allergy Pretreatment: The Importance of Control

    According to the experts, the secret to living with allergies is being prepared. If you can anticipate when and where you’ll have allergy symptoms, you can often prevent them from developing. This is why allergy pretreatment is so important.

    “Controlling allergy symptoms is really important in reducing complications like chronic sinusitis and the progression into asthma,” says Bernstein.

    Don’t be passive. Instead, work with your doctor -- or a specialist such as an allergist and immunologist -- and come up with your allergy pretreatment plan.

    “Even if you have allergies, you should be able to enjoy the outdoors, your home, your pets, and your job,” says Kelkar. “As long as you take the proper precautions, you should be able to do whatever you want.”

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    Reviewed on May 20, 2009

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