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Allergy Shots


Specific allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots) is an aggressive type of therapy to "desensitize" patients from their allergies. Not all allergic patients need allergy shots but they are the most natural way to treat allergy symptoms since they utilize increasing doses of the natural substances to which you are allergic. Allergy shots induce a state of "immune tolerance". This tolerance means you should no longer develop symptoms following allergy exposure. Allergy shots can be given weekly for the first year then spaced out to every other week and eventually once monthly. Nationally, the length of time on allergy shots averages 3 to 5 years. The goal of immunotherapy is to first make you feel better, then discontinue the medicines used to treat allergy symptoms and finally stop the allergy shots. Faster and slower regimens have been studied with the consensus that most patients need allergy shots less than five years. Long lasting relief should be noted once the allergy shots are stopped. Problems that arise during your allergy shots should be addressed by your allergist. Potential side effects of injecting allergens into your skin include allergic reactions. These can range from mild to severe. Fatal allergic reactions have been rarely reported so they should be administered in a medical setting with immediate access to emergency medications. Patients are strongly encouraged wait in the physician's office for 20 minutes following an injection for monitoring of allergic reactions. For this reason, allergy shots are only recommended for patients that;

1. Have failed to gain control of allergy symptoms with allergy medications.

2. Do not wish to take medications.

3. Have complications such as asthma, anaphylaxis or recurrent upper respiratory infections triggered by allergies.

4. Cannot tolerate allergy medications due to side effects.

Once or twice yearly steroid injections are not allergy shots and have no place in a modern approach to allergy care due to their unacceptable number of acute and permanent side effects. Discuss the risk and benefit of every type of allergy therapy with your allergist.



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