Increase Your Tolerance, Reduce Your Symptoms.
Allergy shots (also called immunotherapy) are a series of injections containing small amounts of the substances you are allergic to. They are meant to desensitize or down regulate your immune system to the specific allergens that trigger an allergic response in you. Immunotherapy is not a substitute for avoidance of allergens or for the use of allergy medications or surgery, but rather a supplement to those treatment measures. Allergy injections may permit you to tolerate exposure to the allergen with few allergy symptoms.
What to Expect
Allergy symptoms will not improve overnight. It is a gradual processs that can take six months or more before you start feeling better. It may take 12-24 months for full benefits to be evident. You will most likely still need allergy medications during this time to control your symptoms. About 80% of allergy patients on immunotherapy note significant improvement of symptoms and become less dependent on medications. The goal of allergy shots is to decrease your allergy symptoms and thus your need for allergy and or asthma medications.
Allergy shots are started at a low dose and gradually increased every injection and vial until maintenance is reached. Allergy shots are given twice weekly with at least 2 days between shots until you reach “maintenance.” Once you are on maintenance, shots are given once weekly for a full year going through every season. As your symptoms become controlled and you are not allergy medication dependent shots are reduced to once every 2 weeks and then every 3 weeks. After the first injection from each new vial you will need to wait in our office for 20 minutes to make sure no adverse reactions occur. This is for your safety!
It usually takes 2-6 months to reach the maintenance dose. The time may be longer depending on local reactions or if injections are not received on a regular basis. It is very important that you keep on schedule to achieve the best results. If you are unable to receive regular injections immunotherapy should not be started. Immunotherapy may be discontinued at the discretion of your physician if shots are not given on a regular basis as there is an increased risk of reactions under these circumstances. Depending on your symptom control, allergy shots may take 3-5 years to achieve maximum benefit.