Overview of Allergy Shots
Allergy shots, or subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), are the commonly used form of immunotherapy. It is a small dose of the allergen injected into the arm of the skin about once a week for about seven months, and then it will decrease to once every two weeks, and then once every month. Allergy shots are always given in the allergist’s office in case of a severe allergic reaction. The goal of allergy shots is to aid your body in adjusting to the allergen.
Advantages of Allergy Shots
Allergy shots show improvement within the first three months of use. After five years, most patients do not have any more side effects for the rest of their lives. They are able to end medications and feel better.
Risks Allergy Shots
The risks for allergy shots are very low, especially if you are receiving injections on a weekly or monthly schedule. Your allergist may recommend taking an antihistamine before your shots to control a reaction. Most reactions include redness of the injection area, sneezing, congestion, or hives. In rare cases does anaphylaxis occur. Your allergist will ask that you stay in the office for 30 minutes after your injection to be sure.
Prepare for Allergy Shots
You will want to avoid anything strenuous, such as exercising, for two hours before or after your shot appointment. Before beginning your shots, let your allergist know about what medications and supplements you are taking. Some medications may interfere with shots, so your allergist may recommend not taking them.
Results of Allergy Shots
There may be redness, swelling, or itching right at the injection site. This will go away within 8 hours. Your allergist will ask that you stay in the waiting room for about 30 minutes after the shots to ensure there are no other allergic reactions. The results of the allergy shots depend on how allergic you are to a substance and how severe a reaction is. Symptoms will not stop after one injection. You will notice an improvement during your first year of injections, but most take up to three years to become desensitized.