Allergy immunotherapy, also called “allergy shots,” is prescribed to modify the immune system’s response to allergens with the goal of minimizing and/or preventing an allergen initiated inflammatory response.
This therapy is approved for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, stinging insect hypersensitivity and atopic dermatitis (Allergen immunotherapy: A practice parameter third update 2010).
Patients who should consider allergy immunotherapy include those with
- Moderate to severe allergies
- Allergies poorly controlled with medications
- Adverse reactions to medications used to treat allergies
- Animal allergy and desire to more comfortably be around pets
- Allergen-induced asthma
- Allergen-induced sinusitis
- Allergen-induced atopic dermatitis
- Stinging insect (bee, wasp, hornet, yellow jacket) allergy
- Desire for “natural” treatment with goal of reduction in need for related medications
Potential benefits of allergy immunotherapy include
- Reduce need for allergy medications
- Reduce development of new allergies
- Reduce allergen-induced sinusitis
- Reduce allergen-induced asthma symptoms
- Prevent asthma
- Improvement in allergy symptoms that persists for years after discontinuation of immunotherapy
Risks of allergy immunotherapy include
- Local allergic reaction consisting of redness and swelling in area of injection
- Systemic allergic reaction consisting of itchiness, rash, swelling including throat, trouble breathing, nausea/vomiting, lightheadedness; very rarely, systemic allergic reactions can be life-threatening
Should your history and test results suggest that you may benefit from allergen immunotherapy, Dr. Davé will prescribe immunotherapy that is individualized to your particular allergenic sensitivities as revealed by allergy testing.
With immunotherapy, you will receive subcutaneous injections in the arm during the build-up (more frequent injections) and the maintenance (less frequent injections) phases. Typically, courses of immunotherapy range 3-5 years.
Patients usually experience benefit after several months of treatment.
Further particulars about allergen immunotherapy will be discussed with you if you are a candidate for this therapy.
Please note that Board Certified Allergists & Immunologists are considered the experts in allergen immunotherapy.
For more information, please visit the AAAAI section on allergy immunotherapy.