By Stanley Fineman, MD
Q: I get a lot of allergy symptoms during pollen season. How can an allergist help me?
A: It’s definitely helpful to understand what triggers your symptoms, especially if you’re having difficulty controlling them with over-the-counter medications,having complications like sinus infections or asthma flare-ups, or feeling so run down that it affects your ability to work or go to school. A board-certified allergist has particular training and experience to find answers.
Someone with allergic sensitivity to pollen may not have symptoms after a minor exposure. But with heavy exposure or other allergens added in like pet dander or dust mites, the person’s allergy threshold may be exceeded and symptoms begin. Reduce those other allergen exposures and the individual might be able to tolerate more pollen exposure without symptoms.
Q: Are allergy shots — immunotherapy — worth the time and trouble?
A: It depends on the severity of symptoms. Allergy shots are most effective for inhaled allergens such as pollen and other environmental allergens, animal dander, and mold spores. They can also prevent the progression of pediatric allergic asthma and reduce the need for controlling medications.
Immunotherapy helps build tolerance to an allergen so the patient can tolerate exposure, and that tolerance continues even after the immunotherapy ends.
Stanley Fineman, MD, is a board-certified allergist in Atlanta and president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Hear a podcast with Dr. Fineman about allergy and immunotherapy at www.allergyandasthmarelief.org.
Ask the Allergist is sponsored by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI).