Immunotherapy Allergy Shots- Allergy/Immunology

Doctor: Allergist, Immunologist

What is immunotherapy (allergy shots)?

Allergy shots or allergen immunotherapy, is a long-term treatment that helps to decrease the symptoms due to allergens. They are given at regular intervals over a period of around three to five years to stop or decrease allergy attacks. They help to reduce the severity to allergens and relieves allergy symptoms even after the treatment is stopped.

Who requires allergy shots?

Allergy shots are used to control seasonal allergies, indoor/outdoor allergies, insect stings etc. However, they are not recommended for food allergies.

Allergy shots are recommended for:

  • Patients who do not respond to other allergy medications.
  • Patient’s allergy medication is interacting with other medicines.
  • Patient is allergic to insect stings.
  • Patient wants to reduce the long-term use of allergy medicines.

How do allergy shots work?

Allergy shots basically act like a vaccine. By getting allergy shot, patient develops immunity or tolerance to the injected allergen.

Allergy shots are given in two different phases:

  • Build-up phase: During this phase, patient is given injections with increasing amounts of the allergens once or twice every week. Depending on how many times the injections are given per week, the length of phase varies from three to six months.
  • Maintenance phase: This phase begins once the effective dose is reached.  Depending on the patient’s allergen sensitivity and the response to the build-up phase, the maintenance dose is decided. During this phase, treatments are given anywhere from two to four weeks depending on the patient’s response.

During the built-up phase, patient may feel a decrease in symptoms, nevertheless it might take as long as 12 months on the maintenance dose to feel an improvement. Once the allergy shots are successful, maintenance treatment is usually sustained for three to five years.



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About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.