Allergy shot treatments are designed to help the body build a tolerance to certain substances. For some reason, the body decides to enter attack mode when it comes in contact with things like pollen, dust, certain foods and other environmental elements. While these substances are harmless to most people, it causes a reaction in others that triggers the immune system. The immune system releases histamine, which causes the rashes, sneezing, coughing, wheezing and other symptoms of allergies that many people suffer from. Shot treatments are one way to train the body to stop reacting to the allergens. However, it can take time, involves injections and may not work in some people.
What are Allergy Shots
The allergy shots consist of what the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) calls “extracts”. These are concentrated forms of the allergens in a liquid form. The liquid is loaded into a syringe to be injected into the body. The allergist cannot perform allergy shot treatment without first knowing what exactly you are allergic to. The treatment only works if the allergen causing the reaction is known. Injecting an unknown allergen is a waste of time, especially since the allergy shot process takes years to complete.
How Treatment Works
The extract is injected into the body in a series of visits with the immunologist. The first injection is a weakened form of the extract. The allergist makes the injected extract stronger with each dose until the patient is receiving the full dose of the extract. This is called the maintenance dose. The weakened injections usually occur in weekly appointments that become biweekly until the maintenance dose is reached. The maintenance dose is injected on a monthly basis until the body no longer identifies the source of the extract as an allergen. According to the ACAAI, the weekly doses last up to 30 weeks and the maintenance dose administered for up to five years. Some people need the maintenance dose long after the five-year mark. The length of each step depends heavily on the individuals tolerance and allergy to the extract.
Barriers to Effectiveness
A barrier to the allergy injection treatment is food and medicine allergies. These do not respond well to the injection treatment. People allergic to pets, venom, mold, dust and pollen are all eligible for the shot treatment. However, allergists cannot treat patients with heart problems, asthma, glaucoma, or patients prescribed certain antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs. Such patients are at a high risk for adverse reactions to the injection treatment.
Only an allergist or physician can administer shots to treat allergies. You must undergo other testing and treatment in order to qualify for the treatment, so see your doctor immediately to get started.
Allergy Immunology Shots, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Treatment, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Allergy Injections, Kaiser Permanente.
Allergy Shots, eMedicine Health.