Immunotherapy or allergy shots are a long term treatment for allergies. Allergy shots can significantly help people with allergic rhinitis or hay fever, allergic asthma, eye allergies and stinging insect allergies.
Like a vaccine does
for viruses, the shots
help your body build
up an immunity to
An allergy shot contains a very small amount of the substance that you are allergic to (called the allergen). Common allergens include mold and pollen from grasses, ragweed and trees. Allergy shots are similar to a vaccine as they help your body fight the allergen. When you get shots that contain the allergen, your body’s immune system makes antibodies to the allergen. The next time you have contact with the allergen, these antibodies help block its effect. Because the antibodies block the way your body reacts to the allergen, your allergy symptoms become less severe. After many allergy shots, you might start to get relief from your allergy symptoms. This relief will last for a long time.
The two phases of immunotherapy are the build-up and maintenance phases. During the build-up phase, you will receive injections of increasing amounts of the allergen you react to two times per week for three to six months. The maintenance phase begins when the effective dose is reached and the time between shots will become longer.
Most patients take shots for 3 to 5 years. Some patients require more time on shots, some patients less. This depends on the severity of the allergy.
Allergy shots can be cost-effective for people because they can potentially experience relief from allergy symptoms long after the shot treatment has stopped.