We are sure that you have many questions about Allergy Testing and Allergy Treatment
Are Allergy Shots Effective?
Allergy shots can be effective for people with hay fever and other seasonal allergies, but they can also work for year-round indoor allergies—like mold, dust mites, and animal dander—and allergies to insect bites or stings.
Is it a big commitment?
Allergy shots are given in two phases. In the “build-up” phase, you’ll need a shot once or twice a week for about three to six months (which you can give yourself at home or come into the office). After that, you’ll enter the “maintenance” phase and receive them less often—about once or twice a month, for several years.
Sticking to this schedule is important, for the shots' effectiveness and to reduce your chances of having a bad reaction.
Is there a way to reduce side effects?
Taking an oral antihistamine (like Benadryl or Claritin) before each shot can help reduce side effects and reactions.
Do the shots work quickly?
Allergy shots aren’t a quick fix: While some people may start to feel better during the build-up phase of their treatment, most people won’t experience noticeable improvement until they’ve been in the maintenance phase for 6 to 18 months.
In fact, a recent British study found that it took three full years for allergy shots for hay fever to be more effective than placebo shots. The maintenance phase for most allergy shots is usually continued for three to five years. Some patients experience long-lasting relief after that, and some may need continued treatment.
Who can get Allergy Shots?
Most adults—and children ages 5 and up—can get allergy shots. But if you or your child has severe, uncontrolled asthma, your doctor may recommend against them. In our practice, if a patient’s asthma is flaring or even if they’re sick, we generally wait to give the shot until they’re feeling better.
Women who become pregnant while in the maintenance phase of allergy shots can continue their treatment. (Research even suggests that immunotherapy before or during pregnancy may decrease babies’ chances of developing allergies!) But women shouldn’t start allergy shots for the first time, or increase their dosage, while pregnant.
Certain medicines, like beta blockers, can reduce the effectiveness of Epinephrine—the lifesaving drug used to treat anaphylactic shock. Because anaphylaxis is a rare but serious risk for people getting allergy shots, they may not be recommended for people who take these drugs.
Can it work for Asthma and Eczema?
When people think of allergy symptoms, they generally think of itchy eyes and a stuffy or runny nose, or, in worse-case scenarios, anaphylactic shock. And while allergy shots can help prevent all of those, they can also help with related conditions, as well.
If you have asthma, getting your allergies under control may also help reduce flare-ups, improve your breathing, and reduce your need for medications. Eczema, an inflammatory skin condition, is often associated with (and can be made worse by) environmental allergies.
Can it improve mental health?
It’s not just physical symptoms that can get better with allergy shots; mental state can improve, as well—especially if severe allergies have really taken a toll on your health and happiness.
This may be especially true for insect allergies, a condition that can cause serious distress and affect a person’s ability to enjoy the outdoors. One 2014 study found that patients with insect-venom allergies who received immunotherapy not only had a lower risk of anaphylaxis and death than those who didn’t, but also had lower anxiety and depression scores.
Are under the tongue treatments and option?
For people who hate shots or can’t keep up with their intensive schedule, sub-lingual therapy may be another option. This type of immunotherapy is delivered in daily tablets that dissolve under the tongue, and only the first few doses need to be taken with a doctor present.
Sub-lingual therapies are currently on the market for grass pollen (for children and adults) and for ragweed pollen (for adults only). Some allergy practices will also administer liquid drops under-the-tongue to treat other types of allergies, although these treatments are not FDA-approved.