If medicines can't control your allergic rhinitis, you may think about having immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or sublingual tablets. Allergy shots are small doses of allergens that your doctor injects under your skin. With sublingual immunotherapy, you dissolve a tablet under your tongue daily. Each tablet has a small amount of allergen in it. These treatments help your body "get used to" the allergen, so your body reacts less to it over time.
Allergy shots work best if you are allergic to pollens, animal dander, or dust mites. Doctors use allergy shots mainly to treat an allergy caused by one allergen or a closely related group of them, such as grass pollens. If you are allergic to more than one type of allergen, you may need to get shots for each type of allergen to relieve all of your symptoms. The allergens can usually be combined into one or two shots.
Deciding on allergy shots is a personal decision. Although expensive, allergy shots may not cost more than the combined cost of medicine, doctor and emergency room visits, and missed days of school or work over several years. But you may need allergy shots for 3 to 5 years. And there is some risk of severe whole-body reactions (anaphylaxis).
For help deciding whether to get allergy shots, see:
- Allergies: Should I Take Allergy Shots?
Because allergic rhinitis can't be cured and may be frustrating to treat, people may try alternative treatment methods, such as homeopathy. But most of these treatments either have not been studied or have not been proved to work. Such treatments may be expensive. And some can be dangerous to your health.
Talk to your doctor if you are thinking about trying a complementary or alternative therapy or if you want to know about new treatments that are being studied for allergic rhinitis.