Harvard Men's Health Watch

The upshot of allergy treatment

Immunotherapy takes time and commitment, but can be the best way to manage your symptoms.


Image: Nadofotos/Thinkstock

Many people know all too well the misery of allergies—the chronic sneezing, runny nose, postnasal drip, watery eyes, and itchy throat. They try to fight back with over-the-counter or prescription drugs, but there may be a better option: immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots.

"People often resist allergy shots because they fear injections and only turn to them as a last resort," says Dr. Paul Hesterberg, instructor in medicine in the allergy and clinical immunology unit at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "But they can be an effective means to control symptoms that interfere with daily life, as well as to reduce dependency on allergy drugs."

In fact, a recent study of adults ages 65 to 75 found allergy shots reduced symptoms by 55% after three years of therapy. The research, published in February 2016 in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, also showed that the amount of medication this group needed to relieve symptoms dropped by 64%.

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