Receiving allergy shots isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, especially for
children. However, it may be a worthwhile investment in the long run.
Treatment with allergy shots (also called immunotherapy) can reduce
your need for medications, make asthma easier to control, and give
relief from allergy and sinus symptoms. In children, allergy shots
may reduce the risk of developing asthma later in life and reduce the
risk of developing additional allergies.
Allergy shots do not contain medications. Through allergy testing, we
determine what allergens you are allergic to. Allergy injections contain
the natural protein extracts of these allergens. Extract manufacturers
harvest allergens such as pollens, dust mites, molds, and animal dander
and then process them into a purified protein extract that can be
injected under the skin.
By giving very small doses of the nautral allergen protein, allergy
shots stimulate the immune system. By slowly increasing the amount of
allergen given, the shots teach your immune system to tolerate exposure
to allergens in the environment. This tolerance protects you the next
time you are exposed to these allergens and can help reduce or even
eliminate your allergy symptoms.
By making your immune system more tolerant of the allergens, allergy
shots can reduce or eliminate your allergic reactions to future
exposures. Reducing these reactions often gives relief from your sinus,
nasal and eye symptoms. As allergies make you more likely to develop
sinus infections, allergy shots can decrease the number of infections.
Especially in children, the shots may reduce the number of ear
infections. Allergies are also one of the most common triggers for
asthma. By reducing the severity of your allergies, shots can make your
asthma easier to control. Allergy shots not only give your relief from
allergy and asthma symptoms but decrease your need for asthma and
allergy medications, antibiotics and steroids. In 85% of cases, allergy
shots can give substantial, long lasting improvement when followed
consistently and in accordance with your doctor.
Allergy shots are given in two phases (bullet) Build up phase: During
this phase you typically receive shots once or twice a week. With each
shot, the dose of allergen is slowly increased which builds up your
immune system’s tolerance. For most patients, the build up phase is 28
doses. (bullet point) Maintenance phase: Once you have reached your top
dose, your shots will be spaced out and given every 2-4 weeks. During
this time, the dose of the allergens will remain constant. (bullet
point) Allergy extracts lose potency with time. When you receive a new
bottle of extract during the maintenance phase, the new vial may be
slightly more potent than the old vial. Therefore, we will reduce your
dose slightly to ensure the shots are given safely. You will then need
to go through a ‘mini build-up” every one to two weeks to return to your
Most patients will have relief from their symptoms within 6 months of
starting shots. At this point it is tempting to quit as many people feel
the shots are no longer necessary. However, if you stop too soon, the
allergies are likely to return. Shots are generally continued for 3 to 5
years, at which time we discuss whether or not to stop shots.
Most reactions to shots are localized and appear as redness and
swelling at the injection site. This typically occurs within a couple of
hours of the injection and clears up within a few hours. Systemic
reactions are much less common than local reactions but can be more
severe. Most systemic reactions are mild and respond rapidly to
medications. These symptoms may include itching, sneezing, congestion,
abdominal pain, and hives. Rarely, a more serious systemic reaction can
occur that includes swelling of the throat, wheezing and dizziness. Very
rarely this can be life-threatening.
Due to possible reactions. Injections must be given in the presence of
a qualified medical professional. It is also important that you wait in
the office for 30 minutes following your injection, so that we can
safely treat a reaction if it occurs.
Allergy Partners is based in Asheville, North Carolina and has offices
throughout the country. With over 60 board certified allergists, we are
the largest allergy group in the country. With the combined experience
of our physicians, Allergy Partners has compiled the largest collection
of information on allergy shots in the world. We have worked closely
with leading extract manufacturers and the national guidelines on
immunotherapy to develop a state of the art immunotherapy program. We
strive to provided the safest and most effective care possible. By
closely following national guidelines, we can often provide effective
treatment with fewer shots than other allergy groups.
When considering allergy shots, it is common to have concerns. If you
have questions about starting allergy shots, please call your local
Allergy Partners practice to speak with a member of our care team or
schedule an appointment with one of our allergists. We will be happy to
address your questions and discuss the pros and cons of choosing allergy
shots as your pathway to allergy relief.