Environmental allergies are tough to cope with, especially in the spring. If you are tired of taking daily medications with limited results, you may be a candidate for immunotherapy. Allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) are the most common form of immunotherapy. They can be used as a long-term treatment to greatly reduce your suffering from seasonal and indoor allergies.
Allergy shots work by getting your body used to what you are allergic to slowly, with the hope that you will develop an immunity or tolerance to the allergen. This is a bit like giving your body an immunization. The process typically takes place in two phases: the build-up phase and the maintenance phase.
The build-up phase involves a small amount of the allergen being injected into the upper arm once a week for at least a year. The dosage is gradually increased at each visit. The length of the build-up phase depends entirely on your body’s reaction.
Once you have reached the effective dose, typically the most you can handle without showing symptoms, the maintenance phase will begin. The dosage is no longer increased at each visit and the number of shots is decreased. Once you are in the maintenance phase you will only receive an allergy shot once every two weeks; this phase can last for three to five years.
Allergy symptoms will not improve overnight; symptoms typically improve over the first year of treatment and continue to improve over the next few years. The shots may even decrease symptoms for other allergens and prevent new allergies from developing.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), also known as allergy drops, is another type of immunotherapy that is gaining popularity. Tablets or drops are placed under the tongue for one to two minutes and then swallowed as they dissolve. The process is repeated every day at home for at least three years. The first dose must be taken in a supervised setting at your doctor’s office.
If you are interested in addressing your allergy symptoms once and for all, schedule an appointment for a consultation where we can discuss a customized treatment plan to meet your needs.