If you’re one of the 50 million or so Americans who regularly suffers from allergies, you know how frustrating it can be to find an effective way to manage symptoms, especially ones that can cause serious disruptions to your daily life. One treatment option that’s a bit more long-term is allergen immunotherapy – commonly referred to as “allergy shots.” Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Allergen Immunotherapy?
Allergy shots are a series of injections that contain a small, controlled amount of the substance or allergen that triggers your allergy symptoms. The idea is to gradually increase the dose over time so your body builds up a natural immunity to your allergen, which will cause your symptoms to become less severe and problematic over time.
Why Is It Recommended?
Allergen immunotherapy may become an option if you are not responding well to over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication. Another reason for allergy shots is because it’s difficult or impossible to fully avoid your known triggers, especially if they include outdoor substances like pollen. Allergy shots may also be recommended for the following reasons:
• Your allergy medications are interacting with medications being taken for other reasons.
• You prefer to reduce long-term reliance on allergy medications.
• You have allergies that could produce severe reactions, like what may happen if you are allergic to insect stings.
• You have indoor or seasonal allergies that are difficult to manage.
What Happens When Injections Are Administered?
Allergen immunotherapy is typically a two-phase process. The first phase is referred to as the build-up phase, which usually takes about 3-6 months. This is the point when the allergy doses are slowly increased with each injection. The shots are usually given in the upper arm.
The second step in the process is the maintenance phase. During this phase of treatment, you will be given periodic shots at a set dose so your body will continue to have a natural tolerance to your allergy triggers. Maintenance injections are usually given once a month. This stage can last for 3-4 years or more.
It normally takes about 30 minutes altogether for each shot. This is because you will need to be observed for a brief period of time in case you have an allergic reaction. Your allergy symptoms won’t go away automatically, but they should gradually reduce in severity as treatment progresses.
Most people respond well to allergen immunotherapy. You may be advised to take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication before you have your regular allergy shots to reduce your risk of having issues with the treatment. To see if you could benefit, get in touch with the team at Asthma Allergy Centre. We are conveniently located in Tigard, Beaverton, Newberg, and McMinnville. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!