woman receiving a shot Spring’s arrival next week brings misery for the millions of allergy sufferers. With the blooming trees and flowers comes pollen, which means congestion, sneezing and watering, itchy eyes for many. If over-the-counter medicines aren’t helping your symptoms, it might be time to pursue allergy shots for longer-lasting relief.

Also called allergen immunotherapy, allergy shots help provide allergy sufferers long lasting relief from their symptoms and prevent new allergies from developing. They work like a virus: A particular allergen is injected into the body, given in gradually increasing doses. Overtime the body develops immunity or intolerance to the allergen.

When considering allergy shots, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • How long your symptoms last. If your allergies flare up for just a few weeks each year, allergy shots may not be in your best interest.
  • The severity of your symptoms. Are your symptoms a temporary nuisance or do they cause pain and interrupt your daily routine for months at a time?
  • Time commitment. For allergy shots to be effective requires that they be administered weekly for an extended period of time. During the build-up phase that lasts three to six months, patients must sometimes receive three shots per week. The maintenance phase that follows can last for years.
  • Insurance coverage may vary.

Talk to your physician about allergy shots to help weigh the pros and cons. For people with allergies who suffer long-term symptoms, they can be very beneficial. When oral medications and nasal sprays don’t help, allergy shots may be the next option.