What to Expect If You Decide to Get Allergy Shots

More than 50 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from allergies. With such a high number of individuals affected, it’s no wonder the administration of allergy shots has risen in popularity. But many patients may not even realize what is happening inside of their body when they go in for their injections. Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can be explained and broken down into two stages: build up and maintenance.

After a patient receives an allergy test, the immunologist will determine what allergens they are allergic to and proceed with a dosage treatment plan that is right for them. In the build-up phase, patients will start by receiving injections one to two times a week.

These injections contain a small amount of what the patient is allergic to so that their immune system is triggered without causing a complete reaction. The most common response is a slight dermal-irritation at the site of the injection. In serious cases, if the shot is administered incorrectly or the dosage is increased too quickly, anaphylaxis can occur. To be cautious, doctor’s offices will have patients wait around for 20-30 minutes after the injection to watch for any kind of reaction.

Similar to how a vaccine works, the consistent exposure causes the body to develop a resistance to the allergens. The shots’ dosage amount will increase every time one is administered, until the desired concentration of allergens is reached, which will be determined by your doctor. Once a patient has reached that level, usually after three to six months, they will move into the maintenance phase.

This phase can last for several years with injections more spread out (about every two to four weeks). During this time, the patient’s body really begins to build up a defense against their allergens. After the injections have ceased, the doctor will schedule a follow-up to see how the patient is doing post-treatment.

Anyone experiencing symptoms related to seasonal, indoor or insect allergies should consider getting allergy shots. They can provide a sense of relief and lessen the effects of common allergens, making life more comfortable.

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Photo Credit: William Brawley

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