Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
Allergy shots are prescribed for treatment of patients with an allergy to inhalant allergens.
What is the purpose of allergy shots?
Allergy shots are given to make you tolerate the allergens. Allergens are diagnosed based on the allergy tests done at the office or through a blood test for IgE antibodies in serum. Presence of these antibodies on your lining of the nose, sinuses, airway, and the intestines causes production chemical reactants such as histamine on these areas. Histamine release causes the symptoms of allergy to occur. These symptoms can interfere with your quality of life in different ways. Allergy shots are administered to make your immune system react less intensely by developing tolerance to the inhalant allergens. The exact mechanism of how allergy shots make you develop tolerance is not clear.
What are allergy shots made of?
Allergy shots are different individualized to every patient based on the information from the allergy tests. You are given the same allergens that caused the reaction on the tests. Then allergy injections are initiated at a very small dose, enough to stimulate your immune system to develop resistance, but not enough to induce an allergic reaction. For example, if your test showed that you had a significant reaction to Oak Tree pollen at the dose of 100 allergy units, we begin the shots starting at one allergy unit. Then you are given once a week injections at the doses of 2, 4, 6, 8, and to 10 units. Your exposure is slowly increased to 10, 20, 30, etc. to units to reach higher doses of allergy units to challenge your immune system to develop tolerance to increasing doses to reach the levels of natural exposure in the environment.
How often the shots are given?
Allergy shots are given once per week at our office. It is administered daily between 8 AM and 4.30 PM.
How longs you have to take allergy shots?
The shots are continued on a weekly basis for about one year, and afterwards the interval is increased to every two weeks, then every four weeks. Every four-week-injection is continued for more than three years, depending on distinctive responses. We ask patients to see the allergist once every six months to make individual variation and adjustment on the doses administered. During these visits, the allergist looks for evidence of decreases in symptoms. The symptom-relief can last at least one year after the discontinuation of allergy shots.