Allergen Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is an effective vaccination program that increases immunity to substances called allergens that trigger allergy symptoms. Allergen immunotherapy involves administering gradually increasing amounts of an allergen to a patient over several months. The injections are first given on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and when the maintenance level is reached, eventually on a monthly basis. This process reduces symptoms that are otherwise triggered by allergen exposure. This form is of treatment is the closest thing to a “cure” for allergic symptoms.
If you have allergies, you may be wondering if allergy shots are the best treatment for you. After all, getting regular shots isn’t anyone’s idea of fun, but the possibility of being free from your allergy symptoms may be worth it.
Allergies are the result of a chain reaction that starts in the immune system. Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.
Allergy shots (or immunotherapy) are aimed at increasing your tolerance to allergens that trigger your symptoms every time you are exposed to them. An allergist/immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, is the most qualified physician to test which allergy you have and tell you if allergy shots are right for you.
Who can be treated with allergen immunotherapy?
Allergy shots are recommended for patients with allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis and stinging insect allergy. They are not recommended for food allergies.
Immunotherapy for children and adults is effective and well tolerated. A 14 year pediatric study shows that allergy shots prevented the onset of new allergen sensitivities and the hindered the progression to asthma.
To make an appointment for a consultation or treatment, call Dr. Michael McCormick’s office at (530) 888-1016.