People who suffer from allergies that don’t respond to medical treatment may find relief from immunotherapy, a method of building tolerance to an allergen by introducing it to the body in small doses over a period of time. It is usually given as injections (allergy shots), but can also be taken orally. When ingested, it is known as sublingual immunotherapy or allergy drops.
Allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) are the most common form of immunotherapy administered at an allergy clinic. They can be used as a long-term treatment for seasonal, indoor and insect sting allergies.
They work by getting your body used to the allergen slowly, with the hopes that you will develop an immunity or tolerance to the allergen. The process takes place in two phases, the build-up phase and the maintenance phase.
The build-up phase involves a small amount of the allergen being injected into the upper arm once or twice a week for a few months. The dosage is gradually increased at each visit. The length of the build-up phase may be adjusted based on your body’s reaction.
Once you have reached maintenance dosing the maintenance phase will begin. The dosage is no longer increased at each visit, and the number of shots is decreased. The maintenance phase involves a commitment from the patient to receive monthly allergy injections for 3-5 years total.
Are There Any Risks with Allergy Shots?
Since allergy shots contain a substance you are allergic to, there are some risks involved. Swelling and redness usually develop at the site of injection but are quick to clear up. Sneezing, nasal congestion and hives may develop as well as more severe reactions such as wheezing or chest tightness. Anaphylaxis, the most serious reaction, rarely occurs.
These shots are typically administered in the office.
What Can I Expect from Allergy Shots?
Symptoms will typically improve over the first year of treatment and continue to improve over the next few years. The shots may even decrease symptoms for other allergens and prevent new allergies from developing.
Call Cape Medical Group at (302) 703-4025 for more information or to schedule an appointment.