Allergy is a condition caused by an abnormal reaction of the immune system to substances that are harmless to most people. These substances commonly include materials such as pet dander, dust mites, moulds, pollen, and many others. Anything can be an allergen if the immune system has an adverse reaction.
Currently, there is no cure for allergy. The goal of treatment is to prevent the allergy symptoms from occurring. This usually includes learning how to avoid the allergens, whether it be pet, dust, pollen, or even certain foods and drugs.
The treatment for an allergy depends on what you’re allergic to. The main treatment options for allergy include avoidance, medications and allergen immunotherapy.
The best way to keep your symptoms under control is to avoid the things you’re allergic to, although this isn’t always possible.
If you are allergic to pollen or outdoor molds, it will be difficult to avoid exposure because outdoor allergens blow around in the air. Food allergies are easier to avoid, for instance, if you knew you’re allergic to shellfish, simply don’t eat it. Learn more about how to avoid allergens.
Mild allergies can be treated with non-prescription topical or oral medications, but it is better to ask your pharmacist or GP for advice before starting any new medicines, as they’re not suitable for everyone. There are many prescription and over-the-counter medicines to relieve allergy symptoms. These include:
- Antihistamines: The main medicines that are used to treat the symptoms of allergies. They can calm sneezing, itching, runny nose and hives. Antihistamines come in pills, capsules, tablets, liquids, or nasal sprays.
- Nasal or oral corticosteroids: These medications can reduce swelling and stop severe allergic reactions. Corticosteroids may be used for a range of allergies, and they may be taken for a short-term or a long-term basis, depending on the severity of your condition. Corticosteroids are often referred to as steroids, but they’re not the same types of products used illegally by some athletes to build muscles.
- Decongestants: They reduce stuffiness by shrinking swollen membranes in the nose. But it’s advised not to use decongestants for more than three days in a row, as it may cause the swelling in your nose to get worse. This can happen even after you stop using the medicine. This is called a rebound reaction.
- Epinephrine injection: It is the most important medicine to give during a life-threatening allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. It treats severe allergic reactions to foods, drugs, insect stings or bites, and other allergens. To work, you must get an epinephrine shot within minutes of the first sign of serious allergic reaction.
Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a form of treatment for some types of allergies. Allergen immunotherapy is normally only recommended for the treatment of environmental allergies, such as bee and insect stings allergy.
The aim of treatment is to help your body get used to the allergen so it doesn’t react to it so severely. The response to immunotherapy varies depending on your age, and the allergens to which you react. People under the age of twenty years old respond more favorably than individuals over the age of fifty.
This type of treatment should only be done under strict supervision of a physician, as there is a risk of serious complications when not taking properly. It is usually given as injections under the skin of your upper arm.