Beyond Over-the-Counter: Advanced Solutions for Office-Based Allergy Management

Beyond Over-the-Counter: Advanced Solutions for Office-Based Allergy Management

When allergy season rolls around, most people quickly stop at the drug store to grab a box of their trusted over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medication. Diphenhydramine was probably one of the most common until fluticasone, triamcinolone, loratadine, fexofenadine, and cetirizine hit the market. Sometimes, your medication will stop working, so you'll find yourself turning to the next best option.

Beyond Over-the-Counter: Advanced Solutions for Office-Based Allergy Management

Why does this happen?

The reason depends on the individual. For many people, it could just be a matter of a new allergy development. It can happen as you get older, and what was tried and true for years may not work as effectively for managing your new allergy symptoms. Others could be experiencing something known as rebound congestion. Certain medications, even allergy medications, are only meant to be used for a few days, and using them too often can cause nasal congestion.

Regardless of the reason, other allergy management options are available from your physician, many of which can be very effective when you have serious allergy symptoms that don't respond as well to OTC solutions.

Finding the Right Allergy Management Plan

If your current allergy treatment is no longer working for you, talk to your doctor about allergen testing — if they haven't recommended it already. Allergy testing can tell you much about what is causing your allergy symptoms and help inform the best course of treatment. Your doctor may decide immunotherapy injections or self-administered allergy drops are the most appropriate.

Allergy Drops vs Shots

Allergy drops are a bit of a misnomer — at least in how most people think about this treatment method. It isn't a traditional medication like loratadine, diphenhydramine, or fluticasone. Instead, it's an approach to treating allergies where you expose the immune system to small doses of a given allergen (or allergens). Also known as sublingual immunotherapy, the drops or tablets are typically administered under the tongue daily. The dosage will increase as your doctor prescribes to lower your sensitivity to whatever is causing your allergy symptoms.

Allergy shots — more commonly referred to as subcutaneous immunotherapy — work similarly to allergy drops, exposing the immune system to an allergen (or allergens) to reduce allergy attacks. Again, the doctor will increase the dose of the substance or substances causing your allergy symptoms to build up your tolerance so the allergens' impact on your immune system will diminish. Unlike allergy drops, allergy shots aren't self-administered. You must head to your doctor's office to get the injection.

Naturally, this may lead to the question of how many days can you go between allergy shots.

The first three to six months will often entail anywhere from one to three shots per week, so it's only a matter of a couple of days that you can go between shots for the therapy to provide the expected. After that, however, you'll often visit the doctor's office every four to six weeks for three to five years to receive your next dosage. This can make it more manageable, especially when the treatment succeeds.

Allergy Drops vs Allergy Shots Cost

As with almost any medical treatment, there will be costs associated with allergy drops and shots. The cost of allergy drops will depend largely on the number of allergens in the formulation. Plus, this treatment method isn't often covered by insurance plans. As such, it can cost around $2.00 a day per allergen, so you could be looking at $730 per year — though some people do pay as little as $450 a year for a single allergen drop.

Much like allergy drops, the allergy shots cost will depend on the number of allergens in your specific formulation. Most people, however, will see a co-pay of up to $20 per shot. So, that first year could cost $3,120 out of pocket. You'll pay more if your insurance doesn't cover this treatment plan. Talk to your insurance provider to understand exactly what is and isn't covered.

It's also important to note that sometimes your nasal congestion that won't go away may indicate chronic sinusitis, and it's important to rule out allergens as the cause. Alternative treatment plans may be necessary.

If you have questions about treatment options and alternatives to OTC allergy medications that would be best for your allergy symptoms, the ENT of Georgia South team would be more than happy to talk to you. Contact us today.

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