Laurie Menk Otto, ND, MPH

Naturopathic Medicine | Portland, Oregon

When is the best time to treat allergies using immunotherapy?

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Birch tree catkin is a common allergen.

Birch tree catkin is a common allergen.

People often ask me this question when discussing treatment for allergies. Any proactive steps towards treating allergy and reducing associated inflammation is a good time. Treatment can be started at any time, however, there are certain times that are ideal for starting immunotherapy, especially for seasonal allergies to tree, grass, or weed pollens. The rationale is that you will experience fewer allergy type symptoms if you start when the allergens are not in large doses in the air.

To avoid making allergy symptoms worse, immunotherapy should be started at least 3 months before your peak allergen season hits. If you have completed allergy testing and identified what you are allergic to, you will know the general season in which your symptoms flare. Then, you can plan to start immunotherapy 3-6 months earlier. Trees, grasses, and weeds pollinate the spring, summer, and fall, respectively, with windows of overlap, leaving many feeling miserable for a few months, especially in the case of multiple allergies. To get a head start without increasing your symptoms, starting immunotherapy during the early winter months is a good bet.

If your allergies are to dust, mold, or pets, which are present year-round, treatment can be started at any time. Medications and supplements used to alleviate allergy symptoms can still be taken while taking allergy drops.

Dr. Laurie Menk Otto does skin prick allergy testing, and sublingual immunotherapy, or “allergy drops” at her practice at Heart Spring Health. With winter approaching, it is a good time to make an appointment for an allergy evaluation and to discuss your symptom picture. Wouldn’t it be nice to get through your next allergy season with less sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes?

Author: Laurie Menk Otto ND

Dr. Laurie Menk Otto is a naturopathic physician at Heart Spring Health, adjunct faculty for Helfgott Research Institute, and holds a master's in public health from the University of Arizona. Contact: 503.956.9396 or dr.laurie@heartspringhealth.com.

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