Allergy Immunotherapy Treatment

Also known as: allergen immunotherapy.

What are allergy shots?

Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, reprogram the body’s immune system to reduce or eliminate allergic symptoms. They offer increased quality of life and are the only treatment available that provide long-term relief by eliminating or reducing allergic symptoms. Allergy shots are not effective for food allergies.

What is the testing process?

A non-invasive skin prick is used to determine your allergies to environmental allergens. Your doctor will interpret the findings and discuss the results with you during the same visit.

What is in the allergy shots?

Small doses of your allergens (different pollens, cat, dog, dust mite and/or mold) are injected under the skin on the back of the arm with a small needle.

How long does it take?

Depending on how frequently you come in, it can take three-to-six months to reach your treatment dose (maintenance). After you reach maintenance, your visits will eventually be decreased to once a month. Three-to-five years of treatment is recommended because this is the time it usually takes to build a long-lasting tolerance.

How are allergy shots different than medicine?

Allergy shots are natural and do not contain medicine. They prevent allergic reactions, whereas allergy medications can help mask allergy symptoms.

How effective are allergy shots?

They can decrease symptoms and prevent the development of new allergies and asthma in children. They may also be helpful in treating eczema. While effective for a majority of patients, results can vary from person to person.

What are the side effects and risks?

The most common side effects are redness and swelling at the site of the injection. Serious reactions to allergy shots are rare, but can include hives, swelling in the throat, wheezing, nausea or dizziness. Patients are required to remain in the office for 30 minutes after receiving therapy, as most reactions develop within this timeframe.

Where should allergy shots be given?

They should be supervised by a physician and administered in a facility with qualified staff and equipment, such as your allergist’s or primary care provider’s office.

How much does it cost?

Coverage varies with each insurance plan. Discussing your options with your insurance company in advance is recommended. Your physician’s office can provide information to make the process easier.


Reviewed by: Amy S Feldman, MD

This page was last updated on: 3/14/2018 7:32:12 AM

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