Are allergy shots necessary to treat a runny nose?

Q: Our son's doctor is recommending allergy shots for his constantly running nose. Is this really necessary?

A: Runny noses don't really bother most children -- they just wipe their noses on their sleeves! However, many kids with nasal-allergy symptoms go on to develop asthma because of the continued stimulation of their immune systems over the years. Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, are now given to children as young as age 5 who have significant allergies, in part because the shots have been shown to help prevent allergic asthma from developing. In a study of more than 200 kids with pollen allergies, the odds of getting asthma were cut by more than half for those who received allergy shots for three years -- weekly at first, then every six weeks or so. That may seem like a long time and a lot of shots, but asthma can be a serious and lifelong problem once it has been established. If you're concerned, get a second opinion.

Originally published in Child magazine, 2006. Updated 2009