Allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) are the most common form of immunotherapy. They can be used as a long-term treatment for seasonal, indoor and insect sting allergies.
Allergy Shot Process
Allergy shots work by getting a patient’s body used to the allergen slowly, with the hopes that they 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 depends entirely on the patient’s reaction. Once the patient has reached the effective dose, typically the most they can handle without showing symptoms, 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 an allergy shot once every month for three to five years.
Allergy shots are recommended for anyone whose symptoms are not well controlled through medications or those that want to reduce their long-term use of medications.
What do Allergy Shots Contain?
Since allergy shots contain a substance a patient is 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. Since these shots are administered in a clinical setting, any reaction that does occur can be easily treated.
Allergy symptoms will not improve overnight; 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 Southern Utah Ear, Nose, Throat, Allergy, and Facial Plastics at (435) 628-3334 for more information or to schedule an appointment.