Allergy drops or shots? What you need to know

"If you have severe allergies that aren't well controlled then we can desensitize your body to the things you're allergic to. That's commonly called allergy shots or allergen immunotherapy," says Elisabeth A. Clayton, MD, Allergy and Asthma, at ARC Bee Cave and ARC Far West Medical Tower. "Basically, what we're doing is we're giving you very small amounts of what you're allergic to in a safe controlled setting to increase your threshold for having a reaction. It has the potential to cure the allergies."

Allergy treatments like allergy shots or drops can help relieve allergy symptoms by building your body's tolerance to allergens over time. These immunotherapy treatments may also prevent the development of other related conditions like asthma. In Central Texas, this could make cedar and oak season easier on you.

The main difference between allergy shots and allergy drops is the method of delivery. Allergy shots are administered as injections in a medical setting, usually by a healthcare professional, while allergy drops can be self-administered at home.

Allergy shot treatment

Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), involve injecting small amounts of allergen extracts into the skin. Over time, the dose of allergen is gradually increased to help the body build immunity to the allergen and reduce symptoms.

Allergy drop treatment

Allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), involve placing drops of allergen extracts under the tongue, where they are absorbed into the bloodstream. As with allergy shots, the dose of allergen is gradually increased over time.

Other differences between shots and drops

Allergy drops are often considered more convenient and less invasive than allergy shots. However, allergy shots have been shown to be more effective in reducing symptoms for certain allergens, such as those associated with asthma and stinging insect allergies. Ultimately, the choice between allergy shots and allergy drops will depend on the individual's specific allergies, preferences, and medical history.

How often do I need to take each allergy treatment?

The frequency of allergy shot, and allergy drop treatment can vary depending on your specific treatment plan and your individual response to the shots or drops.

"Generally, allergy shots are given on a regular schedule, typically once or twice a week in the beginning, and gradually increasing to every two to four weeks as maintenance therapy is reached," says Hetu Y. Parekh, MD, Allergy and Asthma at ARC Four Points and ARC Medical Plaza Specialty. "Allergy drops are typically taken daily, with the dosage gradually increased over time until the maintenance dose is reached."

Your doctor will monitor your progress and adjust the frequency and dosage of the drops or shots as needed, and it's important to follow their instructions and keep all appointments for monitoring and adjustment of the treatment plan.

Are there any risks to allergy treatment?

Allergy treatment, whether it is allergy shots or allergy drops, has some potential risks and side effects. Some of the common risks associated with allergy treatment may include:

  • Injection site reactions – For allergy shots, there may be some redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site.
  • Systemic reactions – In rare cases, allergy shots or drops can cause systemic reactions, such as hives, itching, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis. This is why allergy treatment is usually given in a medical setting, where medical professionals can quickly respond to any adverse reactions.
  • Side effects – Some patients may experience mild side effects such as sneezing, nasal congestion, or headache.

It's important to discuss any potential risks or concerns with your doctor before starting allergy treatment. "Your doctor can help you weigh the benefits and risks of treatment and develop a personalized treatment plan that is best for you," says Colleen S. Adkins, MD, Allergy and Asthma at ARC Four Points, ARC Medical Plaza Specialty, and ARC Round Rock. "And remember, always let your doctor know about any symptoms or reactions you experience during treatment."

Is there a price difference between allergy drops and shots?

The cost of allergy treatment can vary widely depending on several factors, including the specific type of treatment and the frequency and duration of treatment. It's best to speak with your doctor and your insurance provider to determine the exact cost and coverage of allergy treatment for your specific needs.

Make an appointment today

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms in Central Texas during the spring season, it's important to talk to your doctor about the best ways to manage your symptoms. They may recommend allergy testing and prescribe medications such as allergy shots or allergy drops to help alleviate your symptoms. Call the ARC Clinic most convenient to you for an appointment with an ARC Allergist to help alleviate Central Texas allergies.

Tags: Allergy & Asthma, allergy shots, allergy drops