Allergy shots are given in the allergist’s office. In a typical treatment schedule, you will begin by getting injections once or twice a week of an extract that contains allergens to which you are allergic. That schedule will continue for two to about six months, as your allergist gradually increases the concentration of allergen extract until your maintenance dose level is reached.
Depending on your response to therapy, your allergist may then decrease the frequency of your shots from once a week to once a month. Immunotherapy may continue for 3-5 years, at which time most patients experience ongoing benefit with continued tolerance.
What are possible side effects of allergy shots?
Since allergy shots contain the substances to which the patient is allergic, it is possible for these injections to produce allergy symptoms. This is why patients must remain in the doctor’s office under observation for at least 30 minutes after injection. There are two types of reactions to immunotherapy: local and systemic. Local reactions are redness and swelling at the injection site. These are not serious or threatening and may occasionally require a dose adjustment. A systemic reaction is rare; symptoms may include nasal congestion, sneezing, hives, swelling and wheezing, or anaphylaxis.
How soon should I expect allergy shots to work?
It is important to realize that there is no “medicine” involved, so you will not see immediate relief. Most patients see a decrease in symptoms within 12-18 months of beginning treatment. For best results, continue to avoid exposure to your allergens as much as possible.