Medical treatments for allergies

Some general remarks

The first step in allergy treatment is to identify the allergen (e. g. pollen, animals, mould, mites or certain foods) and avoid it if possible.

If you think you have an allergy, an appointment should be made with your dermatologist or allergist. The DoctorAnyTime site will allow you to find a healthcare professional available near you. Depending on the type of allergy, the doctor will propose various medications that will reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Medical treatments for allergies

In the event of a food allergy, the only possible treatment is to stop consuming the food for the rest of your life. People with a strong food allergy, usually to nuts, peanuts, fish or shellfish, that can cause anaphylactic shock are advised to keep an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen®, Twinject®) on hand. Epinephrine slows down the allergic reaction until medical attention is received. It should be noted that allergies to latex, certain medications and insect bites can also cause anaphylactic shock.

Main types of drugs

  • Antihistamines relieve symptoms by blocking the release of histamine. Most are available over-the-counter, such as Claritin®, Zyrtec®, Reactin® and Allegra®.
  • Decongestants, such as Sudafed® and Balminil®, relieve nose and sinus congestion.
  • Anti-leukotrienes, prescription drugs, block the effects of leukotrienes (Singulair®, Accolate®). Leukotrienes, belonging to prostaglandins, are produced by the immune system during an allergic reaction, and contribute to the onset of symptoms.
  • The use of corticosteroids is reserved for more serious allergy problems. They prevent and treat inflammation. They are available only by prescription (Flonase®, Nasonex®, Dermacort®, Prednisone®).

Adverse reaction. Some of these medications can cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist for more information.

Desensitization treatment

Desensitization treatment is mainly used in cases of severe insect venom allergy and allergic rhinitis, when drugs are insufficient to relieve it or when adverse drug reactions are poorly tolerated. It consists of repeated and increasing doses of the allergen over a period of three to five years. Desensitization treatment allows the body to become accustomed to the presence of the allergen and thus reduce the intensity of the allergic reaction.

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, this therapy has proven to be effective in cases of allergies to cats, dust mites and pollen. In children, desensitization treatment can reduce the risk of asthma. However, it should not be attempted in the event of a food allergy, as it can cause a severe anaphylactic reaction.