An allergy is an overactive immune response to a harmless stimuli. Allergic reactions are often quite annoying and sometimes very severe. There are a number of methods available to treat allergies, such as over-the-counter medications or simple avoidance of the allergens. However, when avoidance is not possible, your reactions are severe or over-the-counter treatments are not effective, your doctor may recommend a course of immunotherapy, which consists of allergy shots.
What Are Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots involve injecting a patient with a specialized mix of allergenic extracts, i.e., a small portion of the material to which you are allergic. You receive the shots over time, and after a while, your body builds up a tolerance to the allergen.
How Often Do You Have To Receive the Shots?
Initially, you will probably receive the shots once or twice a week. This requirement can last four to six weeks. Once you start seeing improvement of symptoms, you need only receive a maintenance dose once a month. The entire treatment can last three to five years, after which many patients report enduring symptom relief.
Can You Receive the Shots at Home?
There have been reports of patients receiving allergy shots from nurses or other health care providers in their own homes, or else administering the shots themselves. It is not clear where these reports are coming from or if they are accurate. However, reputable organizations, including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, strongly recommend against this because of the possibility of an anaphylactic reaction, which can be life-threatening. Though many patients desire it for convenience’s sake, it is not clear whether any patients actually receive allergy shots at home.
Are There Shots for Every Type of Allergy?
There is, as yet, no immunotherapy available for allergies to medications or food. This is particularly unfortunate, as these can produce some of the most severe allergic reactions. Research is ongoing, but for now, strict avoidance and treatment for accidental exposure is necessary for these types of allergies.
Can Anyone Have Allergy Shots?
As previously indicated, immunotherapy is not available for all allergies. Additionally, certain health conditions are contraindications for allergy shots. Patients who are very old or very young are typically not good candidates. Due to the risks involved, an allergist may be reluctant to administer immunotherapy to patients who receive good relief with other modalities.
An allergist, like an allergist in Washington, DC from Black & Kletz Allergy, will be happy to discuss all your options with you and help you find a treatment plan that works. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.