Our health should be a paramount concern, but the bottom line is, most of us don’t have unlimited funds with which to address our health concerns. Thus, in matters that aren’t life-threatening (such as allergies), we may limp along without treatment because we simply can’t afford it.
If you are tired of feeling miserable through each passing allergy season, it may be helpful to weigh the costs of different allergy treatment methods to see which would best fit your budget. Though costs vary depending on physicians and medications, here are some basic guidelines to help you make your assessment:
Medications: Common types of allergy drugs include antihistamines, decongestants, metered-dose inhalers (for asthma), steroids, nose sprays, antihistamine eye drops, and topical ointments (for hives and eczema). Some medications are available over the counter, others require a prescription. Insurances will cover some of these drugs, but beware that some medications (such as asthma drugs) can be particularly expensive. One drawback to using medications only is that they don’t treat the source of the problem—just its symptoms. Thus, the allergies will keep cycling back with each new allergy season, and you’ll have to keep shelling out for temporary relief.
Allergy shots: Allergy shots are a form of immunotherapy. They are known as subcutaneous immunotherapy and involve an injection of allergy serum into the first layers of skin. The serum contains traces of trigger allergens. As your body is exposed to them over time, it becomes desensitized and stops overreacting to allergy triggers in the environment.
The bonus of allergy shots is that they can bring long-term relief by addressing the underlying source of the allergy. The drawback is that they require a lot of resources. There’s the obvious cost of allergy shots. If you have insurance, they will likely pay for treatment, but make sure to account for the co-pays for each allergy shot. (Most patients get shots at their doctor’s office a couple times a week.) Shots also require time because you have to drive to and from the doctor’s office, get the shot, then wait for a certain amount of time to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
Allergy drops: Allergy drops are another form of allergy immunotherapy known as sublingual immunotherapy. The drops work on the same principle as shots, exposing your body to very small amounts of allergens so that it can develop an immunity to them. Rather than being injected into the skin, though, they are dispensed as droplets under the tongue that can absorb into the blood flow.
A major perk of the drops is that they are safer than shots and can be taken at home rather than at the doctor’s office, saving you valuable time and commuting expenses. One drawback of the shots is that while most insurances cover allergy testing and office visits associated with allergy care, some don’t cover the cost of the allergy drops themselves. If you are looking for the long-term solution of allergy immunotherapy, make sure to talk to your physician about the cost of allergy drops. Some physicians will offer a cash-pay discount. Also, some people find that by the time you pay the co-pay for shots and deal with the hassle of getting to the doctor’s office regularly, drops aren’t such a bad deal after all.
Allergies aren’t life-threatening, but they can sure take the sheen off of life if you’re sniffling, sneezing, wheezing, or rubbing your eyes all through spring and fall. As you talk to your doctor about treatment options and weight the associated costs, you might find that they are not as prohibitive as you thought they were. You might also discover that feeling good is well worth the price.