ALLERGY SHOTS (Immunotherapy)
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.
What are Allergy Shots?
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
How do Allergy Shots Work?
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.
What are the Goals of Allergy
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.
What’s Involved in Allergy Shots?
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 maintenance dose.
How Long Should I Continue Allergy
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
What are the Risks of Allergy
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.
How are Allergy Shots Different
with Allergy Partners?
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.
Are Allergy Shots Right for Me?
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.