What are allergy shots?
Allergy shots (also called allergen immunotherapy) are used to help decrease and improve symptoms of environmental allergies.
Allergy shots are formulated for each individual with components of environmental extracts based on your specific allergies. Your allergist will write a prescription that is unique to you, and this formula will be mixed at the main Pediatrics Northwest location by our immunotherapy mixing team.
Note: Allergy shots can also be formulated for stinging insects/venoms (bee, wasp, and hornet) if there has been an anaphylactic response to these in the past. This is a different discussion to have with your allergist, however, and involves different testing.
How often will I need shots?
- Buildup phase: Weekly for 6-8 months
- Maintenance phase: Monthly for 3-5 years
During the buildup phase, concentrations and doses are incrementally increased to induce tolerance in the body. This is a careful process that is adjusted depending on the patient and time of year. Sometimes buildup times will take longer depending on the patient’s tolerance.
What is involved in an allergy shot appointment?
Allergy shots must be given in-office with a 30-minute observation period afterward, according to national guidelines. This is a safety precaution due to the risk of anaphylaxis. Many patients who receive allergy shots may also need to carry an EpiPen.
All allergy shot patients should pre-treat with an oral antihistamine at least 1 hour prior to their allergy shot to reduce the risk of reaction.
How long will it take for my symptoms to improve?
It can take 6 months to a year to notice an improvement in allergy symptoms after starting shots. This is not a short-term process. It is a long-term process and can result in improvement or resolution of symptoms for decades.
For some people, symptoms improve significantly and allergy medication is no longer needed. For others, some allergy medication will still be needed, but they may notice symptomatic improvement. Everyone is different, and there is no way to guarantee a complete cure of symptoms.
If you are interested in allergy shots, the first step is getting allergy testing through a board-certified allergist. Please contact your pediatrician for a referral to the allergy department to get started with this process today!