Allergy Drops vs. Allergy Shots – What’s the Difference?

There’s more than one way to manage your allergies; we must work together to find the right one.”

Thankfully, we live in a day and age where lots of information is available to us. Allergies are widespread; therefore, you can find many opinions on treating them and finding relief. 

Drops or shots are the top two methods of reducing the effects of your allergies. But which ones will suit you best?

We put together this quick guide to help you navigate the products available based on your symptoms and the causes of your allergies. Before you try any, read this, and if you still have questions, please call us any time. 

Preliminary Solutions

The first step for just about everyone is to start with a nasal steroid or with at least a nasal saline rinse. Those are both safe interventions. They don’t have many side effects because they’re just topical treatments within the nose and don’t require you to be on an oral medication. 

We almost always begin with nasal saline rinse just to rinse the allergens out of the nose and then a nasal steroid such as fluticasone that will help the nose to be less over-reactive. 

We’ll also encourage patients to try an antihistamine. A lot of the non-drowsy antihistamines are available as a generic, can be found over the counter, and are inexpensive. 

Do You Qualify for Shots?

If you can manage your allergies well and you’re not having a lot of symptoms once they’re treated with the easy and safe stuff, then you probably don’t need to see a doctor or get shots. 

If somebody tells me that they take Cetirizine at home and don’t have a lot of allergy symptoms while on it, then they probably don’t need to see any ENT or an allergist for an evaluation. 

If You or a Loved One Suspect Allergies, Please Schedule An Assessment Right Now

What Does an Evaluation Entail?

It starts with straightforward procedures. Just a conversation and then a peek into the nose with a headlight; sometimes, we’ll use a little camera. Frequently, we don’t need to do that when people are just complaining of allergies. 

Often, we’ll order a CT scan just to rule out any significant sinus infection. Then if we feel like it’s necessary, we proceed with allergy testing to see what the patient is allergic to.

We want to expose the body to small doses of what could potentially be an issue. We start with a little scratch test on the skin’s surface to tell if the patient has a strong allergy. If they have strong allergies, that’s all you have to do. 

If the allergies are a little less clear, then sometimes we’ll do a follow-up with a little needle stick to see if there’s a more subtle allergy because we can use a little larger dose that way.

What’s the Difference Between Shots and Drops?

Both have the same goal: to teach the body that whatever they’re allergic to isn’t actually dangerous. 

The advantage of the shots is that we can treat a considerable number of allergies that way. For people that are allergic to a lot of different things, allergy shots are a good option. There’s also clear and easy insurance coverage for allergy shots, which benefits many folks. 

The allergy drops are great because you don’t have to come into the office to get them like you do the shots. They’re far more convenient, and the reason that you’re able to get them out of the office is that it’s much safer.

For now, allergy drops are not covered under several Tennessee insurance policies, but we’ve got cash pricing that makes it cheaper in most cases than getting allergy shots.

An ENTs Opinion

One of the reasons that we don’t always recommend shots or drops for every patient is because they are a significant time commitment. The average course for allergy shots or allergy drops is about three years. 

That’s why we encourage patients to control their symptoms with simple stuff like over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines if they can. 

We don’t usually proceed directly to allergy testing because they probably don’t want to commit to three years of doing shots or drop therapy if they’re well controlled. 

What are the First Steps?

If you’re unsure where to start, please contact us with all your questions. Our specialists are standing by and ready to help you to understand your condition better. 

We are here to help everyone in East Tennessee, but we can’t help unless you take the first step and get in touch with us. 

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Nicholas J. Panella, M.D.

Growing up in Knoxville, Nicholas went to Webb High School. While no day is the same, as he is constantly managing different projects as a general ENT, his practice specializes in head and neck cancer. The job can be difficult; however, he loves to work alongside a wonderful group of doctors and providers who all want to work together to help ensure patients have the best possible outcome. Everyone is so supportive of each other and loves to bring new techniques and surgical options to the East TN area. Outside of work, he dedicates his time to his wife and two young kids. They enjoy spending time on the lake, fishing, mountain biking, and snowboarding. He is also involved with his local church and the Emerald Youth Foundation

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