Allergy Services

Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)

Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a form of long term, 3-5 years treatment that decreases symptoms for many people with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma or conjuctivitis (eye allergy).

Allergy shots decrease sensitivity to allergens and often leads to lasting relief of allergy symptoms even after treatment is stopped. This makes it a cost-effective, beneficial treatment approach for many people.

Who Can Benefit From Allergy Shots?

Both children and adults can receive allergy shots, although it is not typically recommended for children under age five. This is because of the difficulties younger children may have in cooperating with the program and in articulating any adverse symptoms they may be experiencing. When considering allergy shots for an older adult, medical conditions such as cardiac disease should be taken into consideration and discussed with your allergist / immunologist first.

You and your allergist / immunologist should base your decisions regarding allergy shots on:

  • Length of allergy season and severity of your symptoms
  • How well medications and/or environmental controls are helping your allergy symptoms
  • Your desire to avoid long-term medication use
  • Time available for treatment (allergy shots requires a significant commitment)
  • Cost, which may vary depending on region and insurance coverage

Allergy shots are not used to treat food allergies. The best option for people with food allergies is to stricly avoid that food.

Are There Risks?

A typical reaction is redness and swelling at the injection site. This can happen immediately or several hours after the treatment. In some instances, symptoms can include increased allergy symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion or hives.

Serious reactions to allergy shots are rare. When they do occur, they require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction can include swelling in the throat, wheezing or tightness in the chest, nausea and dizziness. Most serious reactions develop within 30 minutes of the allergy injections. This is why it is recommended you wait in your doctor's office for at least 30 minutes after you receive allergy shots.

What is sublingual immunotherapy?

Unlike most allergy drugs - which only treat symptoms temporarily - sublingual immunotherapy addresses the underlying cause of allergies. Allergy drops are administered under the tongue in gradually increased dosages until the patient develops a tolerance to the allergy-causing substance.

What kind of allergies can be treated with allergy drops?

One of the benefits of sublingual immunotherapy is that it can treat a broad range of allergies including those caused by dust mites, pollen, mold, animals and seasonal allergies such as grass, trees, and ragweed.

Who should take allergy drops?

Although most allergy sufferers can benefit from allergy drops, they're especially ideal for people who can't tolerate or don't respond to allergy shots, as well as those who are unable to commit to allergy shot therapy. These people include:

  • Infants and children*
  • Asthmatics
  • People with highly sensitive conditions
  • Those who are needle phobic
  • Those with chronic conditions including sinusitis
  • Those with food and mold allergies
  • Those with multiple allergies including dust, pollen, and animals

* Allergy drops have proven especially helpful for children with eczema and recurrent ear infections, which often have underlying allergic causes. Research shows that many children with untreated eczema and allergies often develop asthma and other chronic conditions later in life, so treating them early can have life-long benefits and may prevent development of other allergies and asthma.

What are the advantages of allergy drops?

In addition to being a viable option for people of all ages, there are other advantages to allergy drops:

  • Lower cost, fewer clinic visits. Compared to shots, allergy drops typically cost less and require fewer clinic visits. Most patients receiving allergy drops need only a few clinic visits the first year, and then once every 6-12 months thereafter until visits are no longer needed.
  • More convenient. You can take allergy drops at home or wherever you are, making it much easier to stay with your treatment.
  • Less medication. Our patients report, and research confirm, that they typically need less medication to control symptoms after beginning allergy drops.
  • Enjoy healthier days. The end benefit of taking drops consistently? Feeling better. Patients typically report fewer clinic visits, hospitalizations, and less time lost from work and school.

How long will I need to take my drops?

Most patients take allergy drops daily for three to five years, but it varies according to the severity of the allergies, seasonality, and how adherent they are to treatment. Many patients begin to see symptom improvement within a few weeks to months but need to keep using the drops through the full course of therapy to get long-term benefit.

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We partner with each patient to create the best Healthcare experience through the integration of the patient’s physical, emotional and intellectual health, one patient at a time.

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