Allergy shots are a more permanent way to relieve your allergies. You receive a series of shots, spaced weeks or months apart, slowly exposing your body to greater amounts of the allergen or allergens you are sensitive to. Over time, your body learns not to react to those allergens. Although allergy shots are effective, getting them can be time-consuming and costly, and as such, they're rarely the first line of defense in treating allergies. Instead, doctors often wait until one or more of the following situations arise before recommending allergy shots.

You’ve Tried Several Different Allergy Medications

Not everyone reacts the same to allergy medications. One medication may work well for a friend, but not for you. So, don't give up if the first allergy medication you take does not work. On the other hand, if you try three or four different allergy medications and none of them give you relief, this may be a sign that allergy shots are a good choice.

You’re Struggling with Allergy Medication Side Effects

Perhaps your allergy medications alleviate your allergy symptoms, but they cause other problems. For example, they might make you drowsy and tired, or they may cause headaches. Sometimes lowering your dose will reduce these side effects, but this may also just make the medication less effective. Allergy shots are a good solution when you're not tolerating your allergy medications well.

You’ve Had Life-Threatening Symptoms

A little itching and sneezing are one thing. Going into anaphylactic shock is quite another. If you have had a life-threatening allergic reaction, your doctor will first want you to undergo allergy testing in order to determine exactly what you're so allergic to. Then, once your allergies are pinpointed, they are likely to recommend allergy shots. When your allergies are that severe, it is best to use allergy shots to make your immune system less reactive to the allergens.

You Can’t Avoid the Allergens

Are you in a situation in which it's difficult or impossible for you to avoid the item you're allergic to? If so, your doctor may recommend allergy shots as a way of keeping your symptoms under control. This is a common move with patients who have to work around substances they're allergic to.

If you are in any of the situations above, talk to your doctor. They can help you decide whether going through an allergy shot regimen is the right choice for you.