Types of Allergies & Conditions that Allergy Shots Can Treat
Allergy shots work well on allergies triggered by inhaled allergens, like pet allergies, pollen allergies, and dust mite allergies. They also are most effectively on the following conditions associated with allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, and conjunctivitis.
Any animal with fur or feathers can cause allergies, and symptoms can vary from person to person.learn more
Pollen allergy “hay fever” symptoms are triggered by pollens from trees and plants, which can range from very mild to severe.learn more
Dust Mite Allergies
Dust mites are microscopic insects that thrive in warm, humid environments and often trigger an allergic reaction.learn more
What To Expect During Allergy Shots
Patients can expect to receive shots one to two times a week during the build-up phase. This phase of immunotherapy can take anywhere from three to six months and will vary from patient to patient. Each appointment will be relatively quick, but will involve a period of observation after the shot to ensure there is no reaction.
Shots during the maintenance stage will occur less frequently. The maintenance stage can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, depending on the patient and condition. Patients can expect to see improvement in symptoms during both stages.
There are several ways in which patients can prepare for their allergy shots. Any preparation, including taking medication, should be done in close consultation with one’s doctor or allergist.
Some doctors may recommend that a patient avoid exercise or exertion in the hours before a shot. This is due to the fact that the increase in blood flow that results from exercise can spread the injectable medication too quickly.
The allergist may also recommend taking an antihistamine in advance of a shot. Patients should also alert their doctor and nurses if they are feeling unwell before a shot, especially if there is a history of asthma.
Side effects of allergy shots
As with any medical intervention, allergy immunotherapy can involve some side effects, which can include:
Local Reactions (Most Common)
Patients may develop redness, irritation or swelling at the site of the shot. These local reactions are common and do not typically last longer than a few hours.
Systemic Reactions (Least Common)
Systemic reactions manifest through sneezing, congestion or even hives. In severe cases, patients may experience swelling in the throat and wheezing.
Anaphylaxis (Extremely Rare)
A patient may go into anaphylactic shock after an allergy shot. This is a life-threatening condition that involves low blood pressure and difficulty breathing.
*Anyone experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis should seek out medical care immediately.
How To Know It’s Time To Try Allergy Shots
Allergy shots are not right for every patient. Any patient considering allergy shots should consult with their doctor or allergist to discuss their options. How can you know if allergy shots are right for you? Patients are a good fit for allergy shots if they:
- Have a condition that can be treated with allergy shots
- Wish to reduce long-term use of allergy medications
- Have no fear of needles
- Have no control over exposure to an allergen (i.e. insect sting allergy)
- Have had little success with controlling symptoms via medications
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take for Allergy Shots To Work?
Patients should begin to see some improvement in symptoms during the build-up stage, though they will not happen immediately. The most significant results typically occur during the second year in the maintenance stage. After the third year, many patients no longer experience significant allergic reactions. Other patients, however, may need ongoing treatment.
How Effective Are Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots can be over 90 percent effective when administered correctly by a medical professional. Results will vary from patient to patient and from one condition to the next.
Do Allergy Shots Lower Your Immune System?
Allergy shots focus on a very particular immune response. While they are designed to ‘lower’ that immune response, they do not affect the overall function and well-being of the immune system.