If patients are not receiving relief of their allergy symptoms by simple way of allergen avoidance and medications, our office strongly recommends Allergy Immunotherapy. Allergy immunotherapy is a desensitization process that rehabilitates the allergy immune system by administering patients increasing doses of identified allergens (pet dander, dust mites, tree and grass pollens, and molds) to accustom the body. Over time your body essentially “gets used to” these allergens and will eventually not respond to them in a harmful way. Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies, not the symptoms. In short, you start to receive relief of allergy symptoms. No cure exists for allergies, but allergy immunotherapy is the closest entity. It is effective in over 90% of patients when used appropriately. We regularly see patients who have successfully used immunotherapy to gain relief of: sneezing, nasal congestion, watery/itchy eyes, sinus pressure, frequent sinus infections, headaches, fatigue, and others.
Let’s look into the different forms of allergy immunotherapy…
Allergy injections, more formally known as Subcutaneous Immunotherapy and less formally as allergy shots, have been the staple to allergy immunotherapy for over 100-years since its technology was first discovered by Leanard Noon and John Freeman in 1911.
At our offices, we schedule allergy injections once a week. During these encounters, patients can expect to see an allergy nurse face-to-face, receive one to three injections (depending on how many allergies you have), and to wait 20-minutes afterward to make sure no adverse reactions occur. The process is simple and easy. Allergy injections are recommended on a weekly basis for the first 36-months of treatment. This includes both a build-up phase and a maintenance phase. Most patients start to see relief 3- to 6-months into treatment and the full effect of immunotherapy can be expected by 15-months. Once patients reach 36-months of treatment, injections then regress to every other week, then every third week, then once a month, and then full discontinuation. Most patients stop immunotherapy between three and five years. We would expect allergy relief for possibly up to a decade afterward.
Allergy injections are very safe overall, but do carry some inherent risks. It is not uncommon for patients to experience local site reactions such as redness, itching, and swelling. Our allergy nurses carefully monitor these reactions and sometimes an antihistamine is recommended before and/or after injections. More serious reactions are called systemic reactions. These range from a mild runny nose to very rarely heart and lung complications. All patents are to be equipped with an Epinephrine Auto-Injector to be used in settings of emergencies. We review this with you. However, given our expertise in allergy care, our reactions are few and far between. We have well-trained staff who perform allergy functions regularly.
Children can undergo allergy injections as well. We delay testing and treatment until children are at least five years old.
See these links for more detailed information on subcutaneous immunotherapy
Interested in a shot-free way of receiving immunotherapy? Check out our Allergy Drop section.