Hay Fever Part 3: Needles everywhere.
Before we start with allergy testing and immunotherapy, I want to talk to you about a more immediate treatment against severe allergic rhinitis; cortisone injections.
What are cortisone injections?
I’m glad you asked. At some point, I had reached a point where I was down to my last nerve. I had tried out all allergy medicines that were available for me and none of them worked. My GP suggested then to get a cortisone injection. There’s a certain stigma when it comes to cortisone, basically that it’s risky and that it can be harmful when being used as a treatment during longer periods. This is not true, however. Of course, it shouldn’t be used constantly but the new cortisone preparations cause hardly any side effects and, unlike the old cortisone preparations, are not harmful (I never experienced anything negative).
If the symptoms are severe so that asthma attacks are a possibility or local treatments do not provide the necessary relief, then it's the way to go. The cortisone depot, which is indicated to the patient, ensures freedom from symptoms, it’s quick, long-lasting and it will sting just for a few seconds and will get you through the summer.
So...what is allergy testing?
It’s been a while, but I remember it like it was yesterday; It was the year 2005, I was 18 and I started to experience my first serious episodes of hay fever. My meds had suddenly decided that this year, they wouldn’t work like last year. So when I went to my GP, I got suggested from him to get some allergy testing done. So I did.
After getting your diagnosis, we can move over to immunotherapy (also known as desensitization).
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a way of rebooting your immune system to stop adversely reacting to an allergen. It is a well-established treatment when all else fails. It’s most commonly designed to treat severe hay fever, but also available for life-threatening reactions to wasp or bee venom (side note).
These injections or tablets will be given over the course of several years and during multiple sessions. For best results, it is essential that the entire course is completed. If a commitment is not your forte, you might wanna stop reading right about now.
During the therapy they will gradually increase the allergen doses each consecutive time, to expose your body with higher levels of allergen. With time your body will learn to tolerate the exposure without developing major symptoms. The perfect time to start this treatment is during fall. This way you’ll be ready for spring. :