Allergies are an incredible nuisance for more than 50 million Americans. While many can manage their symptoms with over-the-counter solutions like antihistamines, nasal sprays, anti-itch creams and eye drops, others require a more long-term solution. This is where allergy shots come in.
What Are Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots work by helping your immune system build a tolerance to triggering substances. Before beginning allergy shots, you must first get an allergy test in order to determine exactly what environmental triggers are causing your symptoms. These triggers are known as allergens.
Shots containing very small amounts of purified forms of allergens are injected in two phases over a total of three to five years until the body no longer reacts to the substances.
- Phase one is the buildup phase, which entails getting injections once or twice a week in increasingly larger doses. This phase lasts three to six months depending on how your body responds to the shots.
- Phases two is the maintenance phase, which begins once the highest effective safe dose is reached. During this phase, the frequency of the shots decreases to weekly, biweekly, then possibly monthly until you no longer experience symptoms.
Some people begin to experience a decrease in symptoms during the buildup phase, but others do not experience any relief until up to 12 months into the maintenance phase.
How Safe Are Allergy Shots?
A review of the safety of allergen immunotherapy was published in 2017 in Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. According to study authors, “The risk of systemic reactions with [allergy shots] remains quite low, but near-fatal and fatal anaphylaxis does occur, requiring physicians to be aware of potential risks for such events.”
Despite the risks, they conclude that allergy shots “are beneficial in treating allergic rhinitis and venom hypersensitivity but should be administered only by physicians familiar with potential risk factors and able to manage treatment-related local and systemic allergic reactions.”
While adverse reactions to allergy shots tend to be local to the injection site and overall rare, it’s important to have an allergist you can trust. If you’re ready to enjoy springtime at Grant Park without suffering from allergy symptoms, call the experts at ENT of Georgia today!