If you are allergic to one or more substances you may consider taking allergy shots. Consult your doctor if you can benefit from allergy shots and go ahead if you get positive response. You should consider allergy shots, if
- It is not possible to avoid allergen (such as house dust, pollen etc.) and if your allergy symptoms cannot be controlled satisfactorily with commonly used allergy medications.
- If allergy medications react with other medications you must take (such as medications for hypertension, diabetes and other chronic illnesses) or they cause serious side effects.
- If you want to stop using allergy medications for long duration you can consider getting allergy shots.
- If you have allergy to insect sting.
Commonly allergy shots are used for controlling symptoms due to,
- Indoor allergens such as house dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold etc. which is not possible to avoid and you may have symptoms round the year.
- Seasonal allergy such as hay fever, seasonal asthma, allergy to pollen etc. commonly need allergy shots for effective long duration and satisfactory control of allergy symptoms.
- Allergic reaction to insect stings such as bees, wasps, hornet etc. should be treated with allergy shots.
What to expect from allergy shots?
Allergy shots take time for showing effectiveness. It may take 2 to 3 years or more for satisfactory results. Symptoms of allergy start improving within one year of starting treatment (allergy shots). However for significant improvement it takes more than one year. Within 2-3 years of starting allergy shots, most individuals are desensitized, and usually do not need any more allergy shots after stopping the shots. However, some individuals may require to keep taking allergy shots to keep allergy symptoms under control.
Allergy shots are given in upper arm (deltoid region). Allergy shots are given in two phases,
- The initial phase is known as build up phase and for three to six months. During build up phase shots are given one to three times a week and the dose of allergen is increase gradually in each shot.
- Maintenance phase usually continues for three to five years (or more for some individuals) after build up phase. During maintenance phase allergy shots are typically given once a month. Majority of people can stop taking allergy shots after five years of maintenance phase, as they become desensitized to allergens and can get exposed to these allergens without causing any symptoms. Some individuals with allergy may require to continue maintenance phase even after five years, because allergy symptoms appear after stopping the shots.