Both types of allergy immunotherapy help the body build resistance to the effects of an allergen, reducing symptoms. Immunotherapy can sometimes eliminate skin test reactions.
Allergy tablets treat only one type of allergen. Allergy sufferers are typically allergic to more than one allergen. Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), can provide relief for more than one allergen. Shots are effective in treating reactions to many allergens including trees, grass, weeds, mold, house dust, dander, and insect stings.
Allergy shots have been a proven treatment for more than 100 years. It is the only treatment that changes the immune system and prevents new allergies and asthma from developing. Research shows allergy shots reduce health care use and costs from prescription medicines, office visits and hospitalizations.
Allergy shots are effective in treating allergies to ragweed relatives like avocado, melon and some other fruits. It is unknown whether the new allergy tablets for ragweed will offer this protection.
There are pros and cons of these different forms of treatment. Board-certified allergists can help patients make good short- and long-term decisions.