Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots) For Airborne Allergens:

Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots) For Airborne Allergens:

Immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be a treatment option for your (or your child's) allergic problems. If you are considering immunotherapy it is important for you to understand the purpose and expectations of immunotherapy, the general program (schedule), the risks, and alternate treatment options before making a decision about starting allergy shots.

The purpose of immunotherapy is to make the patient less sensitive to one or more specific allergens (pollens, dust mites, molds, animals, bee venoms, etc.). Immunotherapy is often considered if allergic symptoms are not controlled by other measures, if medications are causing side effects or if your symptoms require prolonged use of medication.

An extract is prepared according to a patient's specific sensitivities and may be given only to that individual patient. Injections are given at weekly or twice weekly intervals in gradually increasing doses. When the highest dose (maintenance dose) is reached, the shots may be quickly lengthened to a monthly schedule. It usually takes 5-8 months to reach the maintenance dose. The total duration of immunotherapy is 3-5 years, at which time the allergy shots can be stopped. The improvement from allergy shots usually continues without additional injections for many years and often for life. A small number or patients, however, have a recurrence of symptoms when the allergy shots are stopped and may choose to take shots for longer periods.

Most patients who receive allergy shots have significant improvement. The probability of improvement varies with the type of allergy being treated. Over 99% of those allergic to bee venoms improve. About 90% with pollen allergies improve. Dust Mite and animal allergies typically respond well to allergy injections. Molds are somewhat more difficult to treat. Your probability of improvement can often be estimated by your history and allergy evaluation. The degree of improvement varies. A few patients have essentially complete resolution of their allergic problems. Most find the degree of allergic problems is lessened but they may still need medications and need to minimize exposure to allergens. When medications are still required, less medication is needed, medications are more effective and are needed for shorter times. A small number of people do not respond to allergy shots and if this is the case the injections are usually stopped after 1-2 years. We consider the role of immunotherapy in the treatment of allergic disease to be an adjunct, not a substitute, for other measures such as allergen avoidance and medications.

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