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Allergy Shots vs. Allergy Drops: Is One Better for You?

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Allergy Shots vs. Allergy Drops: Is One Better for You?

So, you’re considering the merits of allergy immunotherapy to help you navigate your allergies. You’ve heard great things about what it can do and how it can help people find relief from their allergies. You’ve even heard that while it isn’t a quick fix, it’s a long-term solution. But as you begin to research your options, you find that there’s more than one type of allergy immunotherapy.

Are allergy shots better than allergy drops? Does it matter? While one isn’t inherently better than the other, one might be better suited to your needs. It all depends on you and your allergy.

Understanding Allergy Immunotherapy

Before we explore allergy shots and allergy drops and why one might be better suited to your needs than the other, we need to understand the basics of allergy immunotherapy. Both allergy shots and drops fall under the umbrella of allergy immunotherapy (AIT).

AIT is a treatment that desensitizes the body to a foreign substance called an allergen, which can be various things, such as bee venom or pollen. It works by delivering a small, incrementally increasing dose of whatever allergen you’re sensitive to.

This repeated exposure helps “train” your body not to be as reactive to the allergen by decreasing the production of the “blocking” antibody responsible for triggering the reaction. The process takes time, requiring a few years to deliver the best results (although changes may appear in the first year).

Eventually, you may notice that you’re considerably less sensitive to the allergen and may even be able to be exposed to it with little to no reaction. Of course, everybody is different, so reactivity and timelines can look unique for everyone.

Allergy Shots: At a Glance

Allergy shots are a type of subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) administered under the skin. Each shot contains a minuscule dose of the allergen, delivering it underneath the skin to effectively desensitize the immune system to it.

This option is the most common among adults, especially those who don’t mind needles. It’s less popular for kids, as some kiddos don’t do well with the frequent injections.

With this option, you’ll usually need to visit your doctor or allergist for the injections. They can cause an adverse reaction, so you’ll need to remain at the clinic for a set period after your injection for monitoring. You may need to do the shots a few times per week for the first few years, although the dosing schedule can look different for everyone.

Allergy Drops: An Overview

Allergy drops, alongside allergy tablets, are a type of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Unlike allergy shots, this option doesn’t involve needles. Instead, it involves liquid drops administered under the tongue.

With this option, dosing is as simple as administering a few drops under the tongue as directed by your doctor or allergist. You can administer the drops at home, as there is little chance of an adverse reaction, so you don’t need to visit your local allergist or doctor for each dose.

The combination of no needles and at-home administration makes allergy drops a popular option for children and busy or needle-shy adults, as it doesn’t involve needles or get in the way of busy schedules.

So, Is One Better?

Allergy drops aren’t necessarily better than allergy shots, or vice versa. Both options have merits and are highly effective, making both excellent options for those seeking to find a solution to persistent or debilitating allergies.

That said, one option might be better suited to your needs than the other. For example, suppose you’re looking for an AIT option for your child. Your kiddo isn’t a fan of needles, and your schedule is packed enough that frequent doctor visits aren’t feasible. In this case, allergy drops might be a good option.

Or, perhaps you don’t mind needles and have a more open schedule with room for regular doctor visits. In this case, allergy shots might be a good option.

Of course, the best option for your needs also hinges on your medical history and allergy severity. Your allergist or doctor can offer more input on this matter based on factors specific to your needs, such as your specific type of allergy or its severity.

As with any medical change, it’s important to chat with your doctor before starting allergy immunotherapy. Your doctor can offer some insight into what option might be best for you and, in some cases, supply a few local options that might work for your needs.