6. If things get bad, try allergy shots, also known as allergy immunotherapy. There is no reason anyone should have to suffer from allergies in silence, experts say. "Allergy shots can help a lot of the symptoms, especially when people have tried all the other stuff and are still having problems," Fisher says. These shots involve being regularly injected with a small amount of the substance you're allergic to. The idea is to stimulate your immune system and help your body become desensitized to the allergens, according to the Mayo Clinic. A Cochrane Collaboration review updated in 2003 found that allergy shots help to improve symptoms of asthma, reduce the need for medications, and lessen the risk of severe asthma attacks when patients are exposed to allergens in the future.
Eventually, the hope is that you'll build up a tolerance and your allergic reactions won't be so severe. But keep in mind that allergy shots require a time commitment—typically several years of weekly to monthly shots to completely finish the entire course of treatment. And because patients are injected with substances that they're allergic to, there is a risk of allergic reactions after the injections. For this reason, doctors typically require patients to remain in their offices for a few minutes after each session of immunotherapy.
Another option is immunotherapy delivered orally via drops or tablets, which was found in a 2008 study to be effective in kids with allergic asthma. A review of earlier evidence, published in 2003 by the Cochrane Collaboration, found that this type of immunotherapy, delivered under the tongue, helps to relieve allergic rhinitis. It's unclear, however, whether it's as effective as allergy shots. The availability of this type of therapy is limited because it has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and research is ongoing.